On June 12, Taste of the Nation gathered chefs from nearly 50 of L.A.’s best restaurants at Culver City’s Media Park to help combat childhood hunger. It’s not very often that much culinary firepower coalesces in one place, so I asked 10 chefs, What’s the longest that you ever waited to be seated for a meal, and was it worth the wait? Read their responses.
Victor Casanova (Culina)
The longest I ever waited was at this place in Phoenix. It was about an hour and a half. I was completely drunk by the time I got in, and no, I didn’t feel like the food was worth it, for that given time.
Jeff Cerciello (Farmshop)
Two years ago, we did an event in the Marche region [of Italy]. We went down to this little kind of shanty shack that served a lot of sushi – well, crudo – I think we waited a couple hours en route to go to the south of the Marche. We waited there a couple hours for them to open, so we could have our lunch, then continue south. That was probably well worth it.
Tony DiSalvo (Whist)
The longest I waited was three and a half hours at Pizzeria Bianco, and it was definitely worth it [laughs] because I was starving after the wait. No, just the charm that he has. He does everything himself, from making the mozzarella to making the sauce and the dough, and he’s hands on. He’s just really passionate about what he does. The fact that we waited and got to see him in action and interact with people, he’s just kind of like, I guess, a real artisan, and someone like that, you just have to respect.
Ray Garcia (FIG)
I’m not very patient, so I think I’ve given it about 15 minutes, 20 minutes, then I’ve left. I don’t think I’ve ever actually waited a long time.
Tai Kim (Scoops)
It was in New York, a place called ABC Kitchen. When I was in New York, Matt [Kang] mentioned about it, and I had to wait almost two hours, but it was definitely worth it.
I stood in line – the name of the restaurant slips my mind – but it’s a famous little sushi bar at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. At 6 in the morning, I stood in line in the freezing cold for about an hour or so, and I would definitely stand in line there for two or three, or maybe more.
Joe Miller (Joe’s)
That’s a tough one, because in this world of making reservations and making sure you can get in there and all that – okay, I’ll tell you one that just comes to mind. It was this place in Spain. It was a little tapas bar in Barcelona – [Cal Pep] – and it was a situation where we were reading about it back in the States and it said “open at 6 o’clock,” so we showed up there, and we were thinking ahead of time when we got there, “None of these restaurants really open until 8 o’clock, so how can this place open at 6 o’clock?” And we went there, and we waited, and we waited, and we thought we’d see someone inside. No one showed up until 8 o’clock. Then we sat down and ate a great meal. So that’s a nice one.
Kerry Simon (Simon LA + LA Market)
I really have to rack my memory for that one. Yeah, but I can’t go into it. I can’t tell. [laughs] It was Cheesecake Factory and it was an amazing meal.
Shigefumi Tachibe (Chaya)
I waited three hours to eat at a restaurant one time, but I thought it was worth it, because the food was really good.
Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica + Picca)
Normally I try to be very polite, if it takes long, I’ll wait, but if I have a bad experience, I probably won’t say anything. I’ll never come back, that’s all. The longest I ever wait for a meal, I don’t remember, but I guess like 40 minutes.