Six cooks share the ingredients and recipes that best capture the joy of eating in the West
Courtesy of Ruth Reichl
Reichl may be a New Yorker, but the legendary former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and author of several best-selling memoirs credits the West with her food awakening. In her 20s and 30s, she lived in California, first working as a cook and co-owner at the Swallow restaurant in Berkeley, then as the restaurant critic and food editor for the Los Angeles Times.
If your berries are big, cut them in half so they’ll be easier to wrap up in the pastry. The pastry itself is very forgiving—you can reroll it and it will still bake beautifully.
Recipe: Blackberry Turnovers
Courtesy of Jessica Koslow
Koslow’s little neighborhood restaurant, Sqirl, has become a national sensation—a frontrunner of new California food, where deliciousness coexists with diets ranging from paleo to gluten-free. She plans to open a second restaurant in West L.A. in fall 2017.
Courtesy of Kris Yenbamroong
Yenbamroong’s go-for-broke-authentic Thai cooking has catapulted his Night+Market to the top of L.A.’s best-restaurant lists and made it a favorite among movie stars and celebrity chefs.
Yenbamroong cooked for himself often as a kid while his parents were working at the family’s L.A. restaurant, Talésai. He made avocado toast a lot, in different ways. “Sometimes I’d use that Taco Night cheese you get at the supermarket and put the whole thing in the toaster oven,” he says.
Recipe: Kris’s Avocado Toast
Courtesy of Dana Rodriguez
Rodriguez began her life in restaurants as a dishwasher at Panzano in Denver and was steadily promoted until she eventually became executive chef at Rioja, one of the city’s best restaurants. In 2013, Rodriguez set off on her own, opening Work & Class. She has been nominated twice for Best Chef Southwest by the James Beard Foundation.
More a savory, spicy soup than a stew, this dish is on the menu every day at Work & Class. “It’s called ‘Loca’ because that’s my nickname,” says Rodriguez. She earned it years ago as the newly promoted sous-chef at Rioja, where she was heckled for months by the staff—until she blew up and let some obscenities fly. From then on, she ran the kitchen in peace.
Recipe: Loca’s Pork Green Chile
Courtesy of Vitaly Paley
A major force in Northwest cooking and a James Beard Award–winner, Paley emigrated from Soviet Belarus to the United States as a pianist in 1970. After two years at Juilliard, he decided that the kitchen held more allure than the piano and cooked at top New York restaurants before moving to Oregon. He founded his first restaurant, Paley’s Place, in Portland in 1985, serving fresh, local, seasonal food.
Paley served this sauce with lamb skewers, Georgian-style, for his pop-up, DaNet. For tender skewers, says Paley, buy a boneless leg of lamb and cut it up, rather than lamb “stew meat” (which can come from the more gristly shoulder). Or use lamb loin, which is more expensive but has less fat and sinew. You’ll need 8 (9 in.) metal skewers for this recipe.
Courtesy of Michelle Tam
Food-obsessed practically from birth, Michelle Tam embarked on a Paleo diet while working as a pharmacist. She began her award-winning blog, Nom Nom Paleo, in 2010 and published a best-selling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans in 2013. Her next book, Ready or Not! comes out in August 2017.
Tam often makes this recipe (or a variation of it) back at home in the Bay Area, to recapture the laid-back Maui vibe. All it takes is about 1/2 hour of prep work; then you come back 4 hours later and cook for mere minutes.