If you didn't make it to
Test Kitchen [Zadi rescheduled at Test Kitchen and ended up cooking at a private venue] over the weekend, where chef and culinary school instructor Farid Zadi was cooking dinner on Sunday, you may not quite know what to expect when Zadi opens his new restaurant, plans for which are now in the works. If you did, well, lucky you. Zadi, the former Le Cordon Bleu culinary instructor who recently opened his own cooking school, Ecole de Cuisine Pasadena, about 24 hours after he put on a two-day Couscous Festival, says that the restaurant could open within a year, maybe two, depending on the many variables.
Zadi and his partners are currently looking downtown, in Los Feliz and in the 3rd Street and La Brea areas. As for the name, Zadi's wife and business partner Susan Park, who is also an Algerian cuisine expert, says that they want a name that reflects Zadi's Berber heritage — Zadi was born in France to Algerian parents — and avoids clichés. “It's usually easier to decide what you don't want, before finding the name that just sings,” emailed Park. “Farid's sense of humor being what it is, he might call it L'Arabe qui fume after the restaurant in Paris Le Chien qui Fume.
As for why a restaurant now, when they have so much else going on, Park says that they met with a prospective business partner during the Couscous Festival, a North African Berber who has been following Zadi's career for several years and had previously proposed a restaurant. The timing hadn't been right before, but Park says that it is now.
The new restaurant will feature both traditional and modern North African dishes, and the menu at Test Kitchen, said Park, was a pretty good indication of what Zadi is thinking about. In other words: shrimp ceviche with charmoula emulsion; Merguez brik (or filled pastry); chicken and Marcona almond pastilla; ras el hanout beef cheeks sous-vide. “We want customers to have multiple reasons for coming to the restaurant several times a week. They'll be able to come for coffee, tea and Algerian pastries,” said Park. “We want an open brik station.” Park said they're also thinking about Algerian pizzas for the restaurant, which will be both dine-in and take-out. Well, she had some of us at beef cheeks, sous-vide or not sous-vide. Here's hoping it takes less than two years.