Interview with LA’s Favorite Chefs

LA’s Best Chefs congregated at Sony Pictures this past week in support of the American Cancer Society. The California Spirit fundraiser celebrated 30 years of of support to help fight cancer. Over the past 30 years California Spirit has raised over $15 million in the fight against cancer.

Chefs like Thomas Keller (Bouchon, Per Se, The French Laundry), Neal Fraser (Redbird), Alan Jackson (Lemonade), Jason Neroni (Catch & Release), Amy Deadrick (Tavern), Ryan DeNicola (chi SPACCA), Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth (Knuckle & Claw), Josh Drew (Picca) and Michael Kahikina (Barrel and Ashes) showed off their skills to charity attendees with endless booths of food bites. Although not a chef, we wanted to include LA’s famed Mixologist Julian Cox, who was mixing zesty cocktails and is responsible for the craft cocktail menus of many of LA’s finest locations.

Writer Melissa Curtin and her mom happy to meet America’s renowned Chef/Proprietor Thomas Keller. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

To have these incredible culinary talents in one space provided us with a chance to get the LaLaScoop.


  1. What is your recommended fall dish/drink to serve for fall?
  2. With the drought we have in California, what is your prized vegetable or fruit to work with that may be affected by the drought?
  3. What is your healthiest dish?
Chef Neal Fraser (Photo credit:

A: Redbird, Chef Neal Fraser

  1. Grilled something something Porkchop with apricots and hazelnuts.
  2. I don’t really know; that’s a good question. I think the drought affects everything. It’s hard to say one specific ingredient that I love and I think they’re all in the same kind of boat.
  3. The healthiest dish that we serve? Would have to be the Thai snapper crudo.

A: Tavern, Chef de Cuisine Amy Deadrick

  1. The Short Ribs we do.
  2. Oh my god! Citrus for sure. It’s not really a vegetable but I can’t live without citrus.
  3. We do a sprouted grain. We’re sprouting farro and we’re mixing it with a yellow confit tomato and a bunch of vegetables on top with a little salsa verde.

A: chi SPACCA, Chef Ryan DeNicola11039240_437407836433936_7957714726770656882_n-630x420

  1. Alright so we have two things. We have a polenta with an egg. So we do chesaraise egg. It’s a poached egg with polenta and hazelnut béchamel. It’s basically; the egg gets cooked in the bottom of the bowl with polenta on top of it with and hazelnut béchamel on top. It’s one of my favorite things. The second thing is depending on how late into fall is it, a creamed corn that we do is delicious. It’s basically corn that has been shucked on micro plane. Actually it’s a special instrument though that shucks it while actually cutting it so it creams it while getting all the liquid out of it while actually shucking the corn, and we take olive oil, a little bit of butter and salt and pepper and that’s it. The ingredients don’t actually show how delicious the dish is. You know, it’s a much better dish when you eat it then when you hear it. But only in California is corn a fall dish. In most places it’s a summer dish, but California we have it for a long time.
  2. Tomatoes. Tomatoes is something especially since we’re an Italian Restaurant, so tomatoes are something we use in every part of our restaurant whether it’s the pizzeria mozza or whether it’s the tomato salad, the speaky spacca, or whether it’s the caprese salad at Osteria. And something that really worries us with the drought, you know, produce is what makes California what it is. We wouldn’t have all these great restaurants here if it weren’t for the great produce we have here and if the drought continues it would be something that we would really lose. You know we would lose a lot of that produce. And especially you can tell a major difference when you buy products from outside California. Not just the actual quality of produce themselves but you can tell it’s older, you have to ship it in, it’s inefficient. It’s sad to me, that’s what worries me the most, and tomatoes use a lot of water. So, if it was something that didn’t use quite as much water, tomatoes need water and that worries me.
  3. The healthiest dish would be our ranzino. It’s al plancha, which is on a flat top. We do olive oil, salt and pepper and we put it on the plancha and we finish it with herb salad of tarragon, chervil, parsley, dill, olive oil and grilled lemon. It’s our healthiest dishes by far, but it’s one of my favorite dishes.
Chloe Dahl & Nikki Booth (Photo credit:

A: Knuckle & Claw, Chef Chloe Dahl & Chef Nikki Booth

  1. Oh man I think our favorite dish is going to be that Lobster Pot Pie. We used to live in New York and growing up on the Vineyard it’s just the only thing to have in the winter when it’s cold out. It’s delicious, it’s homey, it’s creamy, it reminds you of fall and makes you happy that the seasons are coming. And you can put your favorite vegetables in there, you can make it spicy, or you can make it sweet. You can do so much because lobster is so versatile.
  2. Lemons. Definitely lemons, citrus, fruits all the way. Nothing like that lemony taste, it makes everything better, especially with seafood. Lemon on seafood is a match made in heaven.
  3. You know any roll, you can get a collard green wrap to go with it, which takes that bread component away, and lobster is really low in calories, it’s high in cholesterol but the chemical that turns the lobster red is actually good for your heart so it balances each other out. So a lobster roll from Knuckle and Claw in a collard green wrap is under 150 calories. And it’s a full meal for you. And you can even get a bag of chips from us to go along with that collard green wrap because that’s gluten free; all of our chips are gluten free. Oh! And we have a coleslaw, we have a Dijon slaw that’s also low in calories but I think the lobster collard green wraps is more interesting than coleslaw.
LA Chef Interview Lemonade LA
Chef Alan Jackson from Lemonade (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

A: Lemonade Restaurant Group, Chef Alan Jackson

  1. Why Fall? Fall Dish, uhmmm. Persimmons, I love persimmons with arugula and blue cheese and sherry. So when fall comes around, the persimmons are beautiful.
  2. Which is the one I couldn’t live without? That’s a problem we probably serve 65 vegetables and herbs throughout our whole restaurant, but the one that I couldn’t do without, that I like the least would be parsnips.
  3. The watermelon radish with seared tuna and ponzu.


Chef Josh Drew of Picca. (Photo credit:

A: Picca, Chef Josh Drew

  1. That’s gotcha journalism. Ugh. I don’t even have an answer for that. To be honest I know that’s ridiculous.
  2. Well for us, we use a lot of simple vegetables: onions, onions pretty much everything, tomatoes too. And tomatoes are really, really, really water based product, so, you know, the biggest, the biggest loss for us would be tomatoes without a doubt. It’s almost the sort of thing we have to have year round.
  3. Well nutritional, I’d call it balanced. At the restaurant we’re really, really aware of our guests and what they expect so we make extra efforts. We don’t use a lot of butter, we don’t use a lot of dairy, we use very little sugar, so I would like to think that pretty much anything we have on the menu with the exception of, you know, the grill slab of pork belly, that if you come into our restaurant it is in some way healthy. We use a lot of vegetables, we use a lot of seafood, we use a lot of lean meat as well, so pretty much anything along with our raw fish.
LA Chef Interview Jason Neroni
Chef Jason Neroni (Photo credit:

A: Catch & Release, Chef Jason Neroni

  1. This fall? I mean our lobster rolls are our signature item. We make the parker house rolls everyday in house on thirty minute intervals so the bread is that fresh. It’s literally made every thirty minutes. I have the Maine Lobster flown in every single day, uh it lands every morning at 11:00 and comes straight to the restaurant. Lobsters are fabricated by 3:00 so you’re getting the freshest lobster you can possibly imagine so, imagine a lobster killed at 3:00 in the afternoon and a roll made at 5:00 in the afternoon. So I mean it’s as fresh as fresh, it’s as close to Maine as you’re going to get.
  2. We’re actually, funny enough in the middle of summer, with it being in California, we actually sell brussel sprouts. Brussel Sprouts are not an overly watered nutrient needed dish so that’s one that we could probably not live without. And also continue to use since it’s not an overly water absorbent dish or vegetable.
  3. Our healthiest dish? At lunch we have a kale salad with a coriander yogurt dressing served with olive oil poached salmon.

A: Barrel & Ashes, Chef de Cuisine Michael Kahikina

  1. I mean obviously our smoked meats are the number one thing we do. Our Frito pie is really amazing. It’s warm and everything that we do at Barrel and Ashes is really kind of comfort foodie and you know down to earth.
  2. I would say, maybe, what’s the one thing we can’t live without? Watermelon?
  3. Hard to find! All of our salads are beat salads. We have a smoked beat salad with strawberries and arugula, pistachio. It’s pretty healthy.
Julian Cox (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

A: Mixologist Julian Cox

  1. In the fall I like to do cocktails like sours. Like sour based cocktails. The old school style, the sour is usually made by citrus, particularly lemon juice, simple syrup, and then I love to incorporate egg white because that’s natural, that’s the way it used to be made. In the fall you have all these great flavors, you have clove, you have cinnamon and all spice, all these kind of baking spice flavors so I always like to incorporate those into drinks with apples or things of that nature that kind of give you that fall feeling.
  2. Lemons or limes. Yeah citrus is definitely the most important thing for what we do.
  3. I think most of the light spirits are a really, really safe bet. Vodka, gin, rum, and tequila mixed with a neutral mixer is the healthiest and the lightest. I know that’s not very interesting but that’s probably the healthiest. But in that spirit, if you add something like fresh herbs or peppers, either spicy or not spicy peppers, or even like cucumbers, something like that, that’s really nice and light and keeps it really fresh. Also, there are great sweeteners out there like Stivia and agave nectar that are really low on the bicimix index, natural and healthy.

leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.