The Bellwether’s eclectic New American menu takes inspiration from Co-Owner and Executive Chef Ted Hopson’s nostalgic memories of cheerful family meals. Growing up in a large Italian household in the Los Angeles suburbs, he developed a reverence for food at an early age, assisting his Italian-born grandmother in the garden and kitchen practically as soon as he could walk. Later on, while in college, Hopson kept his culinary flame burning by cooking at Mario’s Place, Riverside’s premier Italian restaurant, and quickly realized that cooking remained his greatest lifelong passion, leading him to enroll at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. He earned his degree in 2005, and began working at Downtown L.A.’s Michelin-starred Water Grill under acclaimed chef David LeFevre for six years, ascending from intern to executive sous chef.
After honing his skills at some of the most influential restaurants in Southern California –including The Eveleigh, Father’s Office, and Umami Restaurant Group—Hopson now brings his diverse experience and curious palate to The Bellwether, incorporating Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern flavors for a culinary spread that proudly crashes borders and challenges convention.
A Southern California native with international hospitality experience, Co-Owner and Beverage Director Ann-Marie Verdi attributes her passion for food and hospitality to growing up in a large Sicilian family, including several veteran restaurateurs on both coasts. While attending college, Verdi worked at a number of local bars and began to express her own creative interpretations of mixology—a movement just beginning to develop in restaurants and bars around the country at the time. Verdi rose through the ranks at several gastropubs, ultimately leading her to Sang Yoon’s famed Father’s Office, at which she worked alongside chef Ted Hopson as general manager. In 2015, she departed Father’s office–along with Hopson—to co-found The Bellwether.
At The Bellwether, Verdi creates a beverage program that pleases all palates through both contemporary and classic selections. In addition to craft beers on draft, she also has eight wine taps, and two more for her signature cocktails. Beyond the kegs, Verdi also creates an ever-changing, house-infused cocktail menu as ambitious and far-reaching as Hopson’s cuisine, and maintains a wine list that spans the globe.