The haters have really come around as of late. No longer able to rest on simple stereotypes and lazy critiques amid the growing din, outsiders can finally admit it: L.A. is a damn good town to eat through. Today, San Francisco chef-in-exile Jeremiah Tower also stresses just how damn important we are to the contemporary state of dining out. What does he have to say?
The chef has been very active lately, having just launched a website, jumped aboard Twitter (no matter how flustered it makes him), and decrying his famous feud with Alice Waters as two-thirds vast media conspiracy. Today, Tower clocks in with Toqueland and offers some serious praise for the forgotten history of L.A. restaurants, which he admits have been "completely" undervalued in the conversation about restaurant evolution. In fact, he even steals a little thunder from his own departed Stars by crediting L.A.’s long-gone Trump’s and still-kicking Michael’s for setting the farm-to-table early in slick spaces.
Tower credits Michael McCarty and Michael Roberts for starting "the look of the new restaurant." Pointing at the interior of Midtown Manhattan’s Al Fiori, Tower claims:
“This all started in Los Angeles, in two or three places, where you put the approach to cooking with a design look, white and beige and simple and everything. .. that attitude towards design and what you could do, what you could get away with, making it exciting, plus the approach that you just cooked whatever you could find that was excellent in terms of ingredients. That’s really what it was about.”
Tower continues praising the influence of L.A. on his own work in NorCal:
“The writers who came later were so focused on Chez Panisse and San Francisco and everything. But really Trumps -it was Michael Roberts who had that. There was the West Beach Cafe in Venice…And then came Michael and Trumps and one or two others. Cecelia Chang came to me one day and said, ‘Jeremiah, you’ve really got to see what’s happening. You’re not going to believe what’s happening in Los Angeles’ it just hit me like, you know, a nine millimeter, soft-nosed bullet…RW Apple called Stars the most democratic restaurant he had ever seen. But it was only because of that inspiration that came out of L.A.”
Tower goes on to recount early interactions with Wolfgang Puck (who is "the best," despite correcting Tower that he is the only "chef to the stars") and Jonathan Waxman ("brilliant") in what essentially amounts to a love letter to Southern California’s widespread influence in the eighties.
Jeremiah Tower: The Toqueland Interview (Part 2) [Toqueland]