UCLA Luskin Conference Center Quarterly Newsletter — October 2017Chef photos: Felicia Caldwell

Here’s The Dish on Our New Chefs

The Luskin Conference Center welcomes two new chefs to the table

Meet New Executive Chef, Jason Tingley

As the new executive chef of the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, Jason Tingley is overseeing the Center’s entire culinary program. This includes onsite event catering and the 162-seat restaurant & lounge, Plateia – serving Mediterranean-inspired cuisine made with California-fresh ingredients, complemented by superb California wines.

Chef Tingley brings his modern approach to food to the Conference Center, creating new looks in food presentation along with distinct flavor profiles of the Mediterranean. In his new role, he is exploring and paying homage to the different cuisines that reflect the various countries and cultures of the Mediterranean.

Inspired by his grandfather and uncle, Chef Jason began exploring the culinary arts after high school as a prep cook at The Ritz Carlton in Pasadena, California. He soon realized that he had a passion for the culinary field and earned his degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked at a number of notable restaurants, including L’Orangerie, Patina, The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills and recently, at Dodger Stadium as the executive chef.

Over the years, Chef Jason has earned many opportunities to cook in fabulous restaurant and he wanted to begin giving back to the L.A. community. Working at UCLA gives him that outlet to fulfill this ambition, along with the opportunity to set personal and professional goals and work towards achieving them.

Meet Chef Michael Letsinger, New Chef de Cuisine

The Luskin Conference Center is pleased to welcome its new Chef de Cuisine for Plateia, Michael Letsinger. He is charged with inventing innovative new menu items that reflect the unique flavor profiles of the Mediterranean. He also oversees the restaurant’s culinary team to ensure that Plateia’s high standards are met with each and every dish.

Chef Michael comes to the Luskin Center with nearly 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He loves the aspect of always learning something new and being a part of the action, working with great product and fun people. It’s what’s kept him in the business all these years.

He enthusiastically shares, “I’m thrilled to be in this new role at Plateia and look forward to creating fun, new, Mediterranean-inspired, California-fresh cuisine that pushes boundaries and excites every guest we have.”

Chef Jason’s Fall Recommendation —

Tagliatelle Pasta with Kale, Clams and Spicy Salami

Serves 6 to 8


Manila Clams

  • 24 Manila clams (1 pound), cleaned
  • ¼ cup of diced shallots
  • 1 ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 sprig Italian parsley

Tagliatelle Pasta and Sauce

  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces diced spicy salami (Salametto)
  • ¼ cup sliced basil
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch chopped kale
  • ¼ cup sliced garlic
  • 1/3 cup clam liquid (from steaming clams)
  • 1 ½ pounds of fresh Taglaitelle pasta (grocery store cooler section)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper


Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat with the lid on. Gather the Manila clams and other ingredients in a bowl, and with one swift move, pour the ingredients into the HOT sauté pan and cover immediately. Important note: Use a dry kitchen towel to protect your hands and arms, as steam may burn you if not properly protected.

Shake the pan back and forth a few times to encourage the clams to open – about two minutes. Remove cover and ensure that the clams have opened. Lower heat to a simmer and remove the clams using tongs, reserving for later. Then reduce the clam liquid by half.

Meanwhile, add pasta to the boiling salted water. Now begin to prepare the sauce by heating a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and spicy salami – sweat for one minute, add chopped kale and cook until wilted – about three minutes. Pour in the clam liquid and toss in the cooked pasta. Add the salt and black pepper to taste. Finish with the parsley, basil, and clams.