Inside Staff Meal at Red Medicine: Constructed Creativity

by Katherine Sacks
Red Medicine
March 2012


Chef Jordan Kahn of Red Medicine – Los Angeles, CA

Chef de Cuisine Ari Kolender of Red Medicine – Los Angeles, CA


Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 651-5500

Staff Meal Details

Chef de Cuisine Ari Kolender weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
We're not buying prime rib or anything. Most of it's ground meat or chicken breast. Since we seat less than 20 people a day, if we want to splurge, we can. Sometimes if we don't have a lot of time for staff meal, because we're running around the city going to Korean Asian markets to get ingredients, we'll pick up pizza. That's probably the most expensive staff meal.

Size of staff meal:
12 to 20 people

Time of staff meal:

Worst staff meal:
I don't think I've ever had terrible staff meal. I've been pretty fortunate. It probably involves undercooked rice or something like that. I worked with a cook at Providence who made undercooked rice and Michael [Cimirusti] made him use all his mise en place to make risotto instead. He was totally in the shits.

Favorite staff meal ever:
The times we had prime rib at Providence, those were pretty good times.

Staff Meal
Taking a break for staff meal at Red Medicine

It’s no surprise that for plating impresario and all-around creative genius Jordan Kahn, staff meal features more than the obligatory protein, vegetable, and starch. With the wildly creative dishes our 2010 Los Angeles Rising Star chef dreams up at his Los Angeles restaurant Red Medicine, a simple food pyramid composition wouldn’t do. “Staff meal is always a constructed dish,” says Chef de Cuisine Ari Kolender. “It’s never generic.”

Staff Meal
Chicken Salad, Cara Cara Oranges, Napa Cabbage, and Avocado for staff meal at Red Medicine

Kolender and Kahn usually split staff meal prep duties, making composed dishes with the restaurant’s leftover prep. “We do everything from teriyaki rice balls to fried chicken sandwiches with house pickles,” Kolender says. For lighter spring staff meal menu, Kolender often veers toward salads; his recent riff on chicken salad combines a bounty of California produce, including cara cara oranges, Napa cabbage, avocado, and plenty of Asian herbs. He also takes inspiration from his South Carolina roots and makes brisket sandwiches with braised mustard greens, a combination of meat trim and repurposed produce. “We wrap our striped bass in mustard leaves that are charred,” says Kolender of the vegetable inspiration for the meal. “We only use small leaves for the fish, so I used the big leaves for braised mustard greens for staff.”

To help the Red Medicine crew get even more creative in the kitchen, asked Waring to send along a few products, including a smoothie machine, waffle maker, and blender. On sight of the smoothie machine, Kahn immediately thought of staff meal, and Kolender recently used it to produce a sweet treat for the crew: Piña Colada Milkshakes. Although he says they “don’t really make milkshakes very often,” it’s an easy way to do something nice for the staff. “If we want to splurge, it’s worth it to keep the staff happy in the long run,” he says.