Eat Like a Chef: Home Cooking in Los Angeles

Chef Los Angeles

Seasonal chef Michael McCarty toasts protegee Mikey Stern at Michael's in Santa Monica.


Benjamin Ford (Ford’s Filling Station)

One of my go-to dishes in our house is caldo de pollo. My secret is using the whole chicken for the stock and serranos.

Christian Robert Lawson Page (Daily Dose)

I love cooking at home. It’s important for me because I love to cook for my friends on Sunday evenings to make sure that they all get at least one good home-cooked meal every week. My favorite thing to make is Cheeseburgers. They are heartwarming, easy to make, and everybody loves them… you can also easily substitute in some mushrooms for the veggie people. Most important thing with a cheeseburger is that with anything… good ingredients. You’ve got to pick a good beef, I prefer DeyDey’s Grassfed beef (which you can get at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market on Saturdays); and a good cheese, currently I am partial to Midnight Moon from Cypress Grove Creamery. Also, a burger is good in any season. Outside on the grill in the warm months and inside in the skillet in the cold ones.

Daniel Mattern (AMMO)

Cooking at home, a lot of times, we do a lot of soups. Lentil soup is a great one, easy, and super satisfying.

What’s the key to a great lentil soup?

Just nice and slow. Take it nice and slow. Don’t rush anything.

Jordan Kahn (Red Medicine)

Bun. I always have rice vermicelli in my pantry. It takes five minutes to cook. And I always have herbs, fried peanuts and shallots in my pantry. And fish sauce. Sometimes if we have eggplant and vegetables in the drawer, I’ll do that. Sometimes it will just be the noodles. Sometimes I’ll have pork or leftover chicken or something and I’ll cut it up, toss it with some fish sauce. Bun is a good go-to dish, one of the greatest dishes ever.

Any tips for making bun at home?

Use good fish sauce. We like Three Crabs brand. It’s simple. You want a lot of herbs, whether it’s cilantro, rau ram, basil or mint, or all of them. Vietnamese food, the reason we like it so much is that it’s really complex in an interesting way. You have this dish that’s got tons of acid, tons of sugar, tons of salt, tons of heat, tons of herbs, tons of fat, and it all works, jumbled together. It’s kind of a cuisine of extremes, and the fact that maybe it’s too acidic, and it’s too salty, and it’s too sweet, and it’s too spicy, that’s what makes it work, the fact that you have all these extremes, and you push it to the limit.

Michael McCarty (Michael’s)

It depends on the season. In the summer, unbelievable heirloom tomatoes from Mary Ann, who we saw from Coastal. Burrata that we buy from Gioia, which is local. There’s a whole nother story about how they’ve grown in the last 25 years from a couple hundred pounds a week to I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands. It’s still some of the best burrata, even beats the imported ones, with the baby arugula from Coleman’s.

I also do the Charlene melon from the crazy guy, or the ananas from Alex Weiser with bellota, Serrano, Iberico, depending on the ham I have. We’re getting our big bellota in. We get it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. These legs cost $1600, and they’re a whole prosciutto. We just put it out there and they are so spectacular. But again, I do Serrano or Iberico with the melons. I do those two as my appetizers.

The other thing I love to do during the summer also is, I get beautiful lobsters, chop them in half, charbroil them with garlic basil butter. It’s just over the top. We drink a lot of rosé, a lot of Provence rosé. I only drink Aix-en-Provence, rosé that comes from the vintage before. For example, we’re in 2010. We only drink 2009. I go to a place and they offer me a rosé from ’08 or ’07 or ’06, they’re trying to pawn off stuff on you.

It’s that kind of stuff, and pork chops. I do a great barbecued pork chop. I love that with my Pinot Noir.

What’s the key to a great pork chop?

The key to a great pork chop, these Snake River Kurobutas, you just don’t worry about taste and tenderness. The big thing about pork chops, the big companies in all their experimenting took out all the fat. Now it has no taste. So now they’re trying to wean it back in there. But in the case of the Kurobuta, the Snake River is just spectacular. The amount of taste, the fact that it’s tender, and I do that three different ways. Sometimes with a barbecue that I make myself using K.C. Masterpiece as a base. We add all kinds of things to that. Or I do it with Dijon mustard and fresh thyme. It’s great with a little lemon on it at the end.

This is the first in a series of “Eat Like a Chef” posts.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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