I don’t drink but I’ve been sitting at this bar since it opened. I’d visit from NorCal where I was a chef at the time, and just eat and eat and eat and eat and eat. Sometimes I’d stay for hours. There was no reason I made the seven hour drive down other than to eat this food and soak in a little of my hometown before I went back to work.
You see, I had to leave LA for a long period of my life. I grew up here but there was a time where I couldn’t live here anymore. I was ending up nowhere fast. I needed to gain new perspectives and venture. That started a ten year career that led me across both coasts, but I’d always be back for her bread.
Nancy Silverton has been a part of my life even though she never knew it. As a young punk, I fell in love with her breads on La Brea. My car smelled like a bakery at all times, never needed an air freshener.
Then as this whole thing started blowing up with Kogi, Nancy was the first chef that stuck out her hand and said let me show you around. “Who are you? What’s your food all about? Welcome.” She didn’t know me. We spoke on a panel together with Jonathan Gold, and she just started treating me like gold.
I got her digits.
She invited me to dinner.
She set up the first date between David Chang and myself at Jitlada while Jazz pummeled us with chilies. I just buckled up and didn’t fight the current for once in my life. She showed me her heart before we even shook hands.
But way before this you’d find me at this bar.
To be honest, there weren’t THAT many Asians eating out as there are today. The blogger wave was just taking foot, so I’d be like one of the only Asian dudes grinding like I didn’t know any better. I asked Bryant from Spice Table the other day if he was the sous chef that used to just send things over. Back then there was an Asian sous chef that for no other reason than seeing a familiar face, maybe, used to just send stuff over to me and I’d nod.
It wasn’t Bryant. He says there was one other dude back in the mid-2000′s.
Then one day in 2007, I moved back to LA and got a job here and found myself back at the pizza bar eating squash blossoms.
I got to know Matt Molina and Karla, who is now in Singapore.
I asked Matt one day, how do you guys do it? Day in day out, consistent deliciousness year after year. He said, “I’m a creature of habit.”
I guess I’m a bit of a creature of habit too — a creature who habitually eats himself round at Mozza.