Straight Cheezin’

It’s been a heck of a week.

First off, last Tuesday we did a special music meets food album listening party for my friend, TOKiMONSTA. It was quite an amazing night. We had journalists from the music industry and food world all gathered in A-Frame to listen to her new album with fresh ears and souls.

TOKiMONSTA and I dreamed it would be special to try and shake up the normal album listening experience by trying to match the food with the music, kind of like how a sommelier matches wine with food. Beats and Bap. The music became the food and the food became the music.

In order to do this, I needed to listen to the album and understand its moods. I had to sink into its dimensions and try and translate it through the food while enhancing and not taking away from the sonic vision of all her hard work. I think it worked. We threw food on the table and made everyone eat with their hands through the crazy intro then as the moods got dreamy we served a bowl of soup and progressed through raw courses and finally in the dreamy state started dumping piles of gummy bears and chocolate on the table as we all came out of our skin.

It wasn’t easy though.

I must give credit to my team. They trusted me even though I couldn’t communicate exactly how it would all be done. I just saw “it” and, like maybe Jordan saw a win, I had a will to make it happen. I was curt, I pushed, I demanded, and I changed things second by second. I’m sure they were confused and frustrated with me, but I was possessed. And in the end, they held me down and we held Toki down, and through the maze, we found a new way to experience food that never existed before.

On Saturday we had a very special guest that came to us from a magical part of the world. Massimo Bottura from Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. It’s the fourth best restaurant in the world. I think it’s fifth now but fuck it, to me it’s still the fourth.

march 11

I never met him before but as soon as I did, I was compelled to hug him. I feel like I knew him and he knew me. Modena is the land of Balsamic, Parmesan, sour cherries, and Ferraris. He came with his team and they were as sweet and nutty as that wonderful cheese that they grate daily. He sees the world in such a soulful way, I just sat back and listened.

He “got” what I was trying to explain to him about LA, about our regional cuisine. For him and Modena, it’s the nature and his products and the ways of food making that have been transgressed across centuries.

For LA, I tried to explain, it was our people. The mixing of cultures from faraway lands that came together to make a new regional food, that is LA. He kissed me on both cheeks.

It was glorious for the kitchen crew as well. Look, we don’t really look to swim in those waters that is San Pellegrino best restaurant in the world honors over here at A-Frame. We respect it but don’t really give two shits about it, to be honest. We just do what we do and hope you love it, because we love it.

But watching my chefs Jude and Ben smile from ear to ear as they cooked and watching the front of the house take pictures with this amazing man, it made me smile and think. We as restaurant folk don’t have that much. We don’t make that much money, we work long hours, we sacrifice time away from our families, and all for what? It’s for the craft and it’s for you, the diner, of course. But what’s in it for us?

Well…it’s those small moments where we get to cook for another chef and share our connection to this wonderful world of the kitchen and the quest for flavor and cooking. It’s our hug and handshake and in return we reverberate with emotion for days.

Then last night, we had the Prince of Darkness himself, Alice Cooper, in our patio with his whole family. He’s everything his identity has come to be on stage and so much more beyond the stage. Such a witty, funny, slapstick, insightful, dude. Still and forever rocking shows and dinner tables and life.

And now I’m here, trying to put the final edits on my book so hopefully you can read it in the bathroom, one day.

Love you all, take care.
Papi

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