Do you, as many of us do, mark the passage of time by restaurants that have opened and closed throughout Los Angeles? If so, you may have been flipping through your calendar, trying to figure out when in hell Eric Greenspan's grilled cheese storefront is going to settle in for business. And now, with the Foundry on Melrose undergoing a months-long revamp, you may have begun wondering about Greenspan himself. Where is the man, so loud and confident on your television and with his cooking, hiding out? These days, Eric Greenspan is a man of many questions.
As Greenspan will be the first to tell you, he also has all the answers. From a corner booth at the chef's other L.A. restaurant, the Roof on Wilshire, he opened up about the past few months, his future expansion -- and a very personal reason for slowing down and doing things right.
David Féau has been named consulting partner-chef at Le Ka, the downtown restaurant that opened last September. Féau was previously at the Royce in Pasadena, the fancy Langham Huntington Hotel restaurant that was reinvented earlier this spring as a steakhouse (a "wood-fired" steakhouse, no less) under chef Anthony Zappola, formerly of Craft.
Feau's estimable credits include corporate executive chef of Patina Restaurant Group and exec chef positions at Café Pinot, and the Lutéce in both New York and Las Vegas. (Matching up all those names? Keep reading; there's more.)
The Lazy Ox Canteen is known for many things: The New American menu peppered with global influences. A soundtrack booming with The Animals and Soft Cell. The compact dining room outfitted with naked light bulbs and a pair of ox horns. Its unassuming setting -- a calm Little Tokyo street near Skid Row. Most notably, its creative kitchen that helped propel founding chef Josef Centeno to national acclaim.
When Centeno left in fall 2011 to open Bäco Mercat, L.A. newcomer Perfecto Rocher took the helm. He added dishes from his native Spain like paella and chef Andoni Luis Aduriz-style eggs to favorable reviews. Rocher cleared out last fall, hoping to launch a solo venture -- and may have garnered enough attention to succeed.
Other Oxers have also climbed the chef ladder. Original sous chef Mario Alberto opened the admired, if short-lived, Peruvian eatery Chimú and is now chef at Laurel Hardware. Another former sous chef, Kevin Lee, spearheads "Project Ivanhoe," the Korean-tinged dinner menu at Local. He plans to open his own restaurant in a few years. Outside of the kitchen, one-time Lazy Ox cook Ellen Bennett founded a chic apron company.
The downtown bistro Church & State has a new chef. Former Patina executive chef Tony Esnault took over the kitchen recently, succeeding Jeremy Berlin. The move came when Berlin, who had worked with Gordon Ramsay previously and had come to Los Angeles from England to open Ramsay's The London West Hollywood, was tapped by his former employer for a new Ramsay project in Las Vegas. Berlin departs on good terms with Church & State's owner, Yassmin Sarmadi, who hired Berlin to succeed Joshua Smith, who himself followed Walter Manzke behind the stoves.
Sarmadi has been working with Esnault on Spring, a French restaurant going into the ground floor of the Douglas Building at the corner of Spring and Third streets in downtown Los Angeles. Since that project is still some ways away -- target opening date is late 2013 -- Sarmadi told us yesterday that Esnault decided to fill in at Church & State. And Esnault had so much fun cooking the bistro cuisine of his native France that he decided to make the move permanent.
As part of the ALOUD series at the L.A. Central Library, two of the L.A. dining scene's most controversial and beloved figures got together on Wednesday evening to finally set the record straight about their respective unorthodox paths through the culinary world during a program titled "Taking the Kitchen to the Street: Experiments in Flavor and Form." Roy Choi of Kogi, Chego, A-Frame and Sunny Spot, got to set the record straight on his supposed "conversion" to vegetarianism back in April, while chef Ludo Lefebvre opened up about the rampant speculation about the future of his pop-up LudoBites and his upcoming restaurant collaboration with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal. Los Angeles magazine dining editor Lesley Bargar Suter played host for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles event, which lasted just over two hours. We break down some of the highlights for you:
Baja cuisine is habanero hot right now, with food personalities like Anthony Bourdain (who said the region "feels like Tuscany") and Andrew Zimmern elevating the area's chefs to national prominence. If you've been stuck salivating stateside, unwilling or unable to make the jaunt south of the border, then consider yourself in luck, because some of Baja's top talents are bringing their skills to Los Angeles.
Starting Sunday, Sept. 16, John Sedlar will be inviting three Baja chefs to Playa to debut a series of unique a la carte dishes, with ingredients sourced from his brand-new rooftop garden, Cielo Verde. The first guest (at Playa from Sept. 16-18) will be Sabina Banderas of La Guerrerense, a seafood restaurant near the Sea of Cortez which cleaned up at this year's LA Street Food Fest, winning the "Best in Show" award for her tostadas topped with sea urchin, clam and sea snail and slathered in her super-hot homemade salsa.
When Church & State owner Yassmin Sarmadi and former Patina executive chef Tony Esnault got to chatting at the March of Dimes charity event in Los Angeles last year, and then again at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, who knew that a new French restaurant would be the result? Yet that is the happy outcome of hanging out at fancy food events (it's good to know they can actually have a tangible purpose). Yesterday Sarmadi and Esnault confirmed that they've partnered in Spring, a French restaurant set to open next summer on the ground floor of the Douglas Building at the corner of Spring and Third Street in downtown Los Angeles.
Chatting at a wine bar next door to Church & State, Sarmadi's downtown French bistro, yesterday evening, the two discussed their plans for the restaurant -- what they both describe as something that will be "between a bistro and fine dining." And what at first seemed a somewhat unlikely partnership began to make a great deal of sense.
Not only will the LA Film Festival feature prominent cinematographers, directors and movies, but the annual week-long string of events will celebrate other art forms -- like food. To that end, Los Angeles chef Michael Voltaggio (Ink, Ink.sack) has been chosen to be an Artist in Residence for this year's festivalT.
On June 20 at 7:50 p.m., Voltaggio will present a screening and discussion of Dinner Rush (2000), an independent film directed by Bob Giraldi that follows one evening of a New York restaurant whose staff works both in the kitchen and with the mob. Voltaggio will discuss how films like Dinner Rush inspired his work as a chef.