What’s in a name?
SAUSAL (saw-oo-SAL) = Willow (in Old Spanish vernacular)
Sausal is named after Rancho Sausal Redondo [Round Willow Ranch], the vast farmstead that once encompassed El Segundo and most of the South Bay. The name SAUSAL promises the experience of a deep multi-cultural palate reaching back before California was a part of the United States - back when the citizens of Spain and Mexico called her Alta California - and the coast was defined by large Ranchos. The name honors the memory of a fun loving, down-to-earth authenticity reaching back to when her residents enjoyed communal feasts and danced the fandango around an open fire under the stars.
Our Nuevo Rancho Cuisine pulls history forward by blending traditional Hispanic ingredients with contemporary farmers’ market fare. The menu borrows inspiration from the foundational elements of Rancho cooking: Wood Fire, Smoke, and Slow-Roasting; it celebrates the bold flavors of Mexican cuisine in combination with the elemental flavors of Spain - citrus, olives, figs - that were brought here by the missionaries; and just as importantly, it revels in contemporary bounty -- where fresh vegetables and produce are given a more prominent place at the table.
Everyone in our kitchen knows Chef Anne’s never ending search for a Nuevo Rancho Cuisine has been rewarded when, after a first taste of any new exploration, we hear “That is so Sausal!” Yes, another soul satisfying nuevo comfort food has been born.
Anne Conness’ unique blend of creativity and drive forged a career path that has taken her from painting, to television production, to cooking, to partner and chef of Tin Roof Bistro, and now to co-owner and chef of Sausal, where she is creating soul satisfying Nuevo Rancho Cuisine.
After graduating from Los Angeles’ Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, she proceeded to work for top Los Angeles chefs including Michael Cimarusti at the prestigious Water Grill, Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton at Campanile, Mako Tanaka at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main; and Alex Scrimgeour at Saddlepeak Lodge and ALEX.
Anne took her first executive chef position in 2002 at EM Bistro in West Hollywood, turning out a contemporary brand of American comfort food that earned accolades from Gourmet Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Bon Appètit Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and LA Weekly.
In 2007 Conness partnered with Mike Simms to open Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach and their Craft-Beer-and-Burger joint, Simmzy’s. Both Simmzy’s and Tin Roof Bistro were instant hits, garnering a fiercely loyal legion of South Bay regulars, as well as glowing reviews in the press, including Best Local Bar for Simmzy’s by Los Angeles Magazine.
James Beard House, Featured Chef Dinner, NYC, January 2005
Introductory Level, Court of Master Sommeliers, January 2011
Certified Cicerone, November 2012
General Manager and Operating Partner
Nancy Vrankovic, began her career as a teenager in her family’s Arizona restaurants, bussing tables to make gas money. What began as an after school job blossomed into a career when she began managing a restaurant while attending the University of Arizona, and learned the hotel business at the Westin la Paloma after finishing school. She started in the reservations department, and worked her way up through Front Desk Management, and eventually to her end goal as Catering Sales Manager.
She moved to Los Angeles after she fell in love with Manhattan Beach while visiting friends, and has been living in the community ever since; beginning her career as Director of Catering and Special Events with Simms Restaurants in 2010. This was the perfect opportunity to combine the things she loves most – hospitality and guest services – with an chance to do something she’d never done before, build a business from the ground up. She left Simms as Director Marketing and PR in 2016, and is excited to team up with Chef Anne at Sausal.
Having gained so much as a resident of Manhattan Beach, she strives to give back to her community, serving on the Board of Directors for the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Chair of the Board in 2014-15. She produced the first ever “Bite at the Beach” event in Manhattan Beach in the summer of 2014, a food and craft beer festival to showcase the best the South Bay has to offer. Currently, Nancy serves as a member of the Neptunian Woman’s Club of Manhattan Beach, working with the club to provide scholarships to young women in need, and producing the South Bay Chili Cook Off every year to benefit the Manhattan Beach firefighters Burn Foundation.
As a new member of the El Segundo Community, working with the El Segundo Ed Foundation has become a new passion. She looks forward to working toward the revitalization of the downtown El Segundo area, and giving back to the community that has embraced Sausal so warmly.
She lives at the beach with her pug, Bella.
Consulting Pastry Chef
If cooking is an art and baking is a science, Natasha MacAller (www.dancingchef.net) is a pastry chef who moves gracefully in both worlds. Natasha, spent 30 years as a professional ballerina performing with New York’s prestigious Joffrey Ballet and Boston Ballet, finishing her exhilarating career in the Broadway and Los Angeles productions of “The Phantom of The Opera.” Turning her artistic spirit to the kitchen, she now channels the same passion, diligence and precision that made her a successful dancer into her love of creative cooking. To her dancing and cooking are both performance arts, creative disciplines that demand dedication and hours of painstaking practice. Having worked with the likes of Sherry Yard, Peter Gordon and the late Charlie Trotter in great kitchens from London to the US to New Zealand, She’s also a highly sought-after restaurant consultant.
She and Sausal Chef/Owner Anne Conness became great career transition friends while “working the line” at Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel’s iconic Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles. Natasha became Pastry Chef working side-by-side with Chef Anne Conness at Em Bistro and Napa Valley Grille contributing to the success of both restaurants.
Natasha challenges herself constantly, to create a new cooking or taste sensation, and delights in designing “First and Last” dishes and scratch cocktails. Tash divides her time between Los Angeles, London, and New Zealand, teaching her elegant comfort-style starters, desserts and drinks in various locations including at Haagen-Dazs International, Divertimenti and Pru Leith’s Cookery School in London, and New Zealand’s Culinary Institute.
Natasha’s first cookbook, Vanilla Table: The Essence of Exquisite Cooking from the World's Best Chefs: was released in the UK and the USA Spring of 2015 (Jacqui Small, publisher). Thirty-three outstanding chefs contributed one of their own dazzling recipes to this landmark cookbook inspired by Natasha’s experience at the First International Vanilla Food & Wine Event at Heilala’s vanilla plantation in Tonga.
Natasha’s new cookbook Spice Health Heroes: Featuring recipes from Lose Andres, April Bloomfield, Peter Gordon, Judy Joo, and Lidia Bastianich" was released on October 20th 2016 in five countries including the USA.
“I want our book to encourage and inspire people to add more spices to their everyday cooking,” says Natasha. “Spices are showing surprising benefits in fighting disease and promoting overall health, plus adding a delicious complexity to our food. Ultimately this is a book which celebrates the wonder of spices in all their forms and how we can use them to enhance our cooking and lives.” An international team of 22 chefs has donated a recipe each to the book, including Chef Anne’s outstanding Pork Chile Verde from Sausal!
Natasha is thrilled to be collaborating together with Anne again at Sausal in El Segundo.
Sorin Costache’s success in restaurant operations is defined by his interaction with his guests and the sheer satisfaction of greeting them daily with warmth and sincerity. Born in Bucharest, Romania, Sorin has been working in restaurants all his life. Guided by his father, who was a chef, he worked at several high-caliber restaurants in Bucharest before graduating from the Bucharest University of Economic Studies with a degree in Restaurant and Bar Management. A young man with big ambitions, at 19 he decided to further his goals in the Unites States, and made his dream city, Los Angeles, his home.
His core values of honesty and hard work rewarded him with long-term relationships and career at La Vecchia Cuccina and IL Forno, in Santa Monica, where he worked his way up the ladder to GM and Partner. In 2013, Sorin won a blind tasting, identifying eight Italian varietals, and was asked to join a group of US sommeliers on a trip to Italy to meet winemakers in the regions of Puglia, Marche, Abruzzo, Barbaresco, Barolo and Chianti. Lucky for Sausal, Sorin has turned his tasting talent towards South America and regularly brings undiscovered gems to the table.
His passion for food & hospitality sparked his partnership with Anne Conness and her vision of creating a Nuevo Rancho Cuisine. With an elegant yet casual type of service, executed by a well-trained and friendly staff, Sorin welcomes his guests to Sausal as he would welcome them into his own home.
With over 35 years of experience, Joseph Suceveanu has opened, owned and operated dozens of restaurants in Southern California and Japan, including La Vecchia Cucina, On Canon, the Grand Havana Room, and Il Forno Trattoria. In 1998 he was asked to join forces with Terrada Company Japan to consult and open an American brewery restaurant, TY Harbor Brewery in Tokyo. They went on to build new concepts for the Japanese market, including Beacon Urban Chophouse, Cicada, Ivy Place, and Smokehouse. Joseph continues to oversee concept development and operations in Japan, as well as at home at Il Forno and Sausal.