Letter from the Editors: The L.A. Glow

By Caroline Hatchett

By

Caroline Hatchett
LA Artist Maggie Chiang captures the city's proximity to nature
LA Artist Maggie Chiang captures the city's proximity to nature

It’s a momentous time to be young and at the helm of a kitchen, bar, wine program, or food business in Los Angeles. Adventure, risk, and reward are up for grabs, on any block, in any neighborhood, awaiting someone with vision, skills, and the right team. Chinatown is hopping. Jonathan Whitener and Alex Day are thriving in Koreatown. Jonathan Yao is cooking bold tasting menus in a strip mall, somewhere between Sawtelle and Brentwood.

A casual cool pervades the market. Fine-dining sensibilities are dressed down and trotted out on ceramic pottery (cue crudo in repose, bathed in warm sunlight). And chef-driven concept restaurants are cropping up all over the city, making good food more accessible—whether it’s Korean barbecue, tacos, or luscious lox. 

The beverage community is pushing fun. Poolside crushers, margarita variations, and whimsical concoctions rule bar menus. A few select somms are taking advantage of old-school liquor licenses to launch wine shops and clubs, bringing dining room pouring and pairing finesse to the people. Roaster Zayde Naquib is throwing out the rules of third wave coffee and selling pre-ground beans.

L.A.’s pastry scene remains one of the country’s strongest. From Kriss Harvey’s OCD techniques at Bazaar by José Andrés and the uber-refined compositions of Rising Stars Jessie Liu and Gregory Baumgartner to the pies and ridiculous rainbow sherbet at Here’s Looking at You, the city’s pastry chefs are setting national dessert standards.

The restaurant community here is feeding off an anything-is-possible energy. L.A. is where trends are being set. Young Filipino chefs are leaving Western kitchens to cook food that reflects their heritage. Michael’s in Santa Monica is welcoming a new era thanks to wunderkind Chef Miles Thompson, who’s waking up the dining room with ambitious, striking plates. Women business owners and executive chefs are a natural and growing part of the landscape.

There’s so much excitement in (and for) L.A., it’s hard to contain it. In the coming weeks, we'll present the 2017 Los Angeles Rising Stars and some of the trends, techniques, dishes, and drinks that set this beaming city apart.

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