Jeremy Fox, the first chef to receive a Michelin star for contemporary vegetarian cuisine at Napa’s Ubuntu, recently decamped from The Bay Area, purchasing a ‘69 VW Bug to move to Los Feliz. He’s been rigorously testing recipes for the fall opening of his own Venice restaurant, Barnyard, laying out gardens in Culver City and Malibu to supply the kitchen, and plugging away on a cookbook called Seed to Stalk. With all his talk of strawberry spinach, recipe testing, and training like cooking is a professional sport, one might think he takes the game too seriously. Quite the contrary. “When it comes to working, I’m definitely a snob about ingredients," Fox tells Grub Street, "but when I’m eating, I’m not so picky. I’m just happy to not have to do the cooking." In this week’s L.A. diet, the chef discusses his cravings for date shakes and Double-Doubles, and explains why whipped cream may be deserving of its own food group.
Wednesday, Sept 5
I’ve been putting some real thought into my diet for the first time in my life. I’m about to enter a time where I’m going to be working like a dog, so I’m trying to get my body on track. I never really ate breakfast, but I’ve been eating these protein shakes with flax oil and some IsoPure. It’s got zero carbs and zero sugar, but it tastes like cream of broccoli soup. I haven’t worked like how I’m about to in a couple years. It’s not going to be easy, so I’m sort of retraining myself. I could never give up on the coffee, though. I’ve been getting Blue Bottle every month, and I drink it black, no sugar.
After heading to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, I went to Farmshop and had breakfast at around 11:00 A.M.—some smoked salmon and bagel, without the bagel. Then Jeff [Cerciello] sent out some pastries, and I had to eat them.
I’m hungry every few hours so I graze on little bits throughout the day. At around 2:00 P.M. I had an antipasto salad from Santino’s, which is half a block away from Barnyard. I’ve never really been into salads. I grew up on fast food, but I’m 36 now, and it doesn’t make me feel so good anymore. I used to go to town and eat three Double-Doubles from In-N-Out in one sitting, but I just can’t do that anymore.
That night I got some New York steaks from McCall’s Meat & Fish. I’m there probably twice a week and get all my protein from there: chicken bones to make stock, eggs—everything really. I cook those New York steaks in cast iron with some Brussels sprout leaves and some onion and schmaltz, and that was dinner.
Thursday, September 6
I slept in a little bit, and did the protein protein shake and coffee routine at around 7:00 A.M.
I was really busy testing menus all day and didn’t get a chance to sit down for a proper meal, so I didn’t eat again til 6:00 P.M. The last five years I’ve conditioned myself to just do vegetables. It took a while to even have ideas that even included meat, so research has been a challenge. When it came time for dinner, I went Daikokuya and had the ramen with extra back fat. I’m definitely making the most of not being in a kitchen, trying out places in Koreatown and other parts of the city. I know I won’t be doing any of this stuff soon.
Friday, September 7
I did the broccoli shake at 7:00 A.M., and then at 11:30 A.M. I had another salad from Santino’s. By about 3:30 P.M., I was on the road with Rachael [Sheridan of Cube Cafe and Marketplace] to head to Palm Springs as a last hurrah before things get crazy. It was kind of a cheat weekend. On the road we got some Pirate’s Booty and Combos. We stayed at the Parker Palm Springs. At 8:00 P.M. we got there and I had oysters and New York steak with some peppercorns and fries and champagne.
Saturday, September 8
We slept in til 9:30 A.M. and ordered room service, a bagel with lox and cream cheese. That afternoon was just lazy, laying out by the pool. I worked on my small wares order while I was drinking a pisco sour. The guy had never made one, so I taught him how. He did a great job. And then of course we ordered some more oysters and fries.
For dinner we had grilled cheese with short ribs and horseradish from Norma’s, another restaurant on the property. We pretty much parked it at the hotel the entire weekend. I had a really good deal where it was $249 a night, and a $200 food credit. Do you blame me?
I love diners. I’d really prefer not going to really hip, creative places. I like things more straightforward, most times. That’s the reason why I love L & E Oyster Bar. That’s one of my favorite spots in the neighborhood [Los Feliz].
Sunday, September 9
We woke up, went to Norma’s, and had one of their signature breakfasts called the Was’za, which is in a part of their cookbook. I had their big Belgian waffle with fruit on the inside and on the outside. They fanned out banana slices and then brûléed them with raspberry hollandaise. Whipped cream is my favorite food group, and they served it with some Devonshire cream. I had to Instagram it, it was so beautiful. I also had coffee and some OJ.
On the way back to LA we stopped in Cabazon and went to Hadley’s for a date shake, then came home, and that was pretty much it. I wasn’t hungry the rest of the night, and I crashed early to get ready for the week.
Monday, September 10
I got back on the bandwagon with a broccoli shake, coffee, and another salad for lunch at Santino’s. I find something I like and I stick with it. It’s like finding a good song and that’s all you want to listen to for a few days. Having that habit be a salad is groundbreaking because in the past because it’s been Hostess pies and McDonald’s.
For dinner I made a chicken and tortilla soup with Rancho Gordo black beans. Those are the only beans I eat, their store was a few blocks away from us in Napa at Ubuntu. It’s such a comforting dish, and again, it’s better than McDonald’s.
Earlier: Jeremy Fox Dreams of Kosher Pig [GS]