黑料网 alumna shares thrill of earning a Michelin star for Long Beach's Heritage restaurant

Published January 17, 2024

When Heritage聽earned聽a coveted Michelin Star in July 2023, the owners 鈥 one of them a Cal State Long Beach alumna 鈥 saw their restaurant business triple overnight.聽They went from having to close early on occasion, because of the lack of customers, to having reservations booked solid for months.

The Long Beach fine-dining establishment is co-owned by Lauren Pretty, who obtained her bachelor鈥檚 degree in from 黑料网 in 2017. For Pretty and her older brother/executive chef Philip, receiving the Michelin star has been life changing. 聽

鈥淏efore the Michelin star, we were only serving a few tables a night,鈥 Lauren Pretty said. 鈥淲e were getting nervous 鈥 when was business going to pick up? It wasn鈥檛 the numbers we needed to make it work. The Michelin star completely changed that. Now we鈥檙e functioning and paying bills. We actually doubled our staff since we won the star. It鈥檚 been exciting and hard work.鈥 聽

The Michelin star 鈥 awarded to restaurants worldwide using top-quality ingredients and maintaining high preparation standards 鈥 is the first and only one for Long Beach, and the only new Michelin star this past year for Los Angeles County.聽Heritage had previously earned a Michelin Plate, which recognizes quality food, but not the prestigious red star.

Kanpachi crudo at Heritage Restaurant
Kanpachi crudo with avocado, fermented pineapple and celtuse is a standard starter at Heritage.聽

Michelin, the French tire company that also publishes travel and restaurant guides, also awarded Heritage a green star, recognizing the restaurant鈥檚 sustainable and eco-friendly practices.聽

鈥淲e use sustainable meat and seafood,鈥 Pretty said. 鈥淎ll of our to-go containers are biodegradable, not plastic or polystyrene. We have a farm about a mile away and farm organically, with no pesticides. We go to the Santa Monica farmers market weekly, to get other produce. We cultivate relationships with farmers. Forming relationships with farmers takes years, so we can get the best products available to us in Southern California.鈥澛

Lauren Pretty at her farm
Lauren Pretty grows fruits and vegetables organically and raises animals in an ethical manner at her farm in Long Beach.

When she was a student at The Beach, Pretty studied with Professors Pamela Kreiser and Christina Derme, and credits them for providing mental and emotional support, as well as a firm foundation in communication styles and studies.聽

鈥淚 loved Cal State Long Beach. I was so happy during my time there,鈥 she said. 鈥淚 just felt very supported in my goal to receive my bachelor鈥檚 degree. I just felt like they reached out to me; they were trying to help me graduate. I was never confused about what classes I needed to take to get to that point.鈥澛

Philip and Lauren Pretty
Brother and sister team Philip and Lauren Pretty sit in front of Heritage, which they co-founded and co-own.聽

While a communications student at The Beach, Pretty obtained a certificate in mediation, following Kreiser鈥檚 encouragement. It still helps her to this day at Heritage, which can get hectic and stressful at times, as chefs and servers work side by side in a rather tight space.聽

鈥淚f my staff are having problems within themselves, I鈥檓 very comfortable to sit down with my manager, steer the conversation in a way that becomes productive, because of my training in mediation. It was fun to make up these real-world problems that people might encounter. And it was a great experience to learn all the skills from that class too.鈥澛

Pretty also values the semester she spent studying in Italy, which was part of 黑料网鈥檚 Study Abroad Program. Her communications professors Kreiser and Derme were also on the program in Italy with her.聽

鈥淭here is this sort of aloneness when you鈥檙e studying abroad,鈥 Pretty said. 鈥淵ou learn to have a little more backbone. You are going to be home late at night in a different country. You can鈥檛 just go home. You learn how to be aware, safe, by yourself, self-sufficient.鈥 聽

Heritage serves a set tasting menu of six courses that includes kanpachi crudo, grilled diver scallops with razor clam, Iberico pork shoulder, blackberry frozen yogurt and burnt sage honey cake (subject to change).

Grilled diver scallop at Heritage
Grilled diver scallop with razor clam, leek and sunchoke at Heritage in Long Beach.

All dishes are elegantly prepared in farm-to-table fashion. Wine pairings and a pescatarian option are available, but the restaurant politely declines other modifications. 聽

While most people are happy for her and the restaurant, Pretty said she witnessed a tiny bit of controversy surrounding the new Michelin star. 聽

鈥淧eople wonder why did we get it? We鈥檙e in Long Beach, in Rose Park. We鈥檙e not in a $2 million building. It used to be a house, and it鈥檚 in Long Beach? We鈥檙e just like here, doing our thing. It鈥檚 small, it鈥檚 intimate. It鈥檚 not this immaculate building. Some people walk in and judge that immediately, which has been difficult. 聽

鈥淏ut most people see what we鈥檙e doing. I think they understand what we are doing, which is all we can hope for.鈥澛

Lauren Pretty making a drink
Pretty likes to use "fun ingredients" while making cocktails.

And what does the future hold for Heritage? 聽

鈥淎nother restaurant for sure,鈥 Pretty said. 鈥淚n the coming year, another restaurant. Chef (Philip) throws out crazy ideas. He鈥檚 been talking about an ice cream truck. 聽聽

鈥淚鈥檇 like to make the farm more successful. I think it鈥檚 a really cool venue in Long Beach to get married at. But we can only fit 65 seated.聽

鈥淎 bar would be great 鈥 we鈥檝e got a great last name to utilize.鈥 Pretty has also received training as a bartender.聽

No matter what happens, nothing can take away the sense of accomplishment and gratitude for what Long Beach 鈥 and her alma mater 鈥 have given her. 聽

鈥淚鈥檓 from Long Beach, so there鈥檚 a huge sense of pride. I feel lucky to have been born here. I love the people and the culture. It鈥檚 one of the best feelings to win a star for Long Beach.鈥澛

Lauren Pretty sitting in Heritage restaurant
Heritage is located in a converted, century-old craftsman house in Rose Park, Long Beach.