I recently spoke with 13 Los Angeles chefs and restaurateurs at An Evening on the Beach, LA Street Food Fest, and out in the field, and they answered several questions, including: What’s your favorite part of operating restaurants?. Read their responses:
Meeting with people, talking with people, and exchanging feelings about the food, the décor. It’s instant gratification, or instant drama.
Jeff Cerciello (Farmshop)
Dealing with customers. Really, it’s about taking care of the guest, that sort of experience, creating memories. That’s why we do it.
Johneric Concordia (The Park’s Finest)
Making people feel good. When it comes down to it, that not only includes our customers, but it includes the people that work there. It includes our suppliers. There’s a long chain of restaurants that are built with a restaurant or anyone who produces food. It’s funny. I’ve been analyzing what we do, and on its most basic level, we’re giving people sustenance, calories, energy. It can be really satisfying, or it can’t, but the fact that it is, that you really take the time and effort to try and do that, and it works, and they get it, that’s the draw.
Connie Cossio (Coni’Seafood)
Probably my customers, making sure they’re satisfied with the food, that it’s amazing.
Well as a chef it’s creating, being able to get stuff that’s authentic in Mexico and bringing in flavors that people haven’t experienced before, but are pretty common over there. And then also being able to plate and create a little bit differently here.
Fred Eric (Tiara Cafe)
My favorite part about operating, I would say definitely has to be the spirit of community, and being able to make fun environments and make tasty food that allows people, their quality of life, to be pleasurable.
Michael McCarty (Michael’s)
Many things. It’s like throwing a great dinner party every night. When I got into the business, I found out that a restaurant was in fact like my parents throwing a dinner party every night. The only difference was I gave everybody a bill at the end of the night. And 35 years later, it’s still fabulous. That’s what we do.
Edlyne Nicholas (Isla Cocina Pilipina)
It’s including older people and younger people and bringing them together and meshing it with Filipino and American influences together. We’ve never really had that in California before. That’s my favorite part.
Bryant Ng (The Spice Table)
There are a lot of things. It’s very rewarding to really see people enjoy the food. It sounds cliché, but it’s really something amazing to be able to see that.
It’s the interaction with guests, the interaction with staff, the interaction with vendors and purveyors. It’s just an outpouring of generosity from people to make things happen, to get all the myriad of details together to put on that plate, something for the guest to enjoy, where it comes from, how it gets here, how the cooks produce it, how it’s served, the beverages that go along with it. It’s just an incredible myriad of inter-relations and inter-reactions to get that food on the plate for the guest.
Paul Shoemaker (Savory) + (Juicy Lucy)
It’s the people. It’s the life. It’s the family. It’s the guests, the community. It’s everybody. The food is just the icing on the cake.
I like the excitement of the whole thing. Keeping people happy. Feeding people. It’s not one thing. It’s a lot of things.
Mako Tanaka (Robata-Ya)
I like to make good food. That’s a part of operating restaurants. It’s challenging, something new. I try to create something different. My passion is to open up restaurants.