Ruth Reichl

Ruth creates her own menu from the chefs' varied offerings.

on Aug 21, 2013

Halfway through the season, we’re starting to get a sense of who these chefs really are, what they’re made of.

I’d have known, without being told, that the brilliant Cobb Salad-inspired salmon was Bryan’s dish. He’s been blowing me away, week after week, with extremely smart food. This one struck me as the perfect interpretation of modern Los Angeles; it’s playful, light, filled with interesting textures and fascinating flavors. And yet, at the same time, it makes a bow to history.

And of course, that beef and broccoli dish belonged to Sang. He too knows how to honor the past while looking to the future, and he seems determined to remind us of the strong Asian influence on California cooking. I loved the way he deconstructed a classic Chinese-American dish, making it not only modern, but absolutely his own. There was something quite wonderful about the addition of black bean ghee, as if he was trying to remind us of the enormous influence of Indian food. 

You could have put that barely cooked salmon with its ginger shiso, and aromatic dashi gelee in front of me anywhere in the world, and I’d have known that Douglas had made it. He’s a classic cook who’s enthralled with Japan, and the lessons he learned there go bone deep; his understanding of simplicity and balance is so profound that I think he’d be incapable of putting a single extraneous ingredient onto a plate. 

If you put those three dishes on a menu, added Neal’s light and lovely olive oil cake, and Sue’s sprightly little salad, you’d have the perfect modern Los Angeles restaurant. Put David out in front -- aren’t we’re all falling a little bit in love with this sweet open guy? -- and you’ve got a restaurant you’d eat in often. Especially if you get to do it with Busy Philipps; she just lights up the room.