With just 39 seats, a farm to table modernist approach to food, and an ethos that suggests it wants to be something more holistic than just a restaurant – there is good reason that Alma was named Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurant of 2013, and the chef lauded as one of Food Wine Mag’s Best New Chefs of 2013. Chef Ari Taymor and Ashleigh Parsons run a space that is both critically acclaimed & layman-loved – a rarity in the world of food & foodies. And yes, as one does if they wanna hang with the culinary cool kids, they support local farmers for their produce. And, of course the proteins are sustainable. And, clearly their farm to table ideology would make Alice Waters proud. Yes, obviously, clearly, of course. But there’s more, my friend. With their Alma Outreach program, Ari & Ashleigh work with charter high schools in downtown Los Angeles, creating urban gardens with students, and teaching cooking classes bimonthly. As Ashleigh explains, “The gardening program allows for experiential learning: they feel the soil, they water the plants, they smell the herbs. It’s a lesson that is very sense provoking,” and is an important connection for both Ari & Ashleigh to the community. What strikes me the most is that they aren’t doing Alma Outreach for the press, or because it’s the right thing to do – they do it because they feel it. And it’s that same sentiment, that same feeling, love, impulse for connection, that courses through every dish plated at Alma.
- What’s the staff meal your kitchen gets most excited about?
Middle Eastern Day. Pita, hummus, roasted chicken, quinoa tabbouleh, greek salad. So good!
- What is the one knife you can’t live without?
Japanese made knives. I have from a few different craftsmen, but they are all light, extremely sharp and handmade.
- What’s your naughty food indulgence?
I believe that as long as you’re taking care of yourself you can eat pretty much whatever you want. That being said, I love a good hamburger and french fries more than anything on earth.
- What’s your mini bar go to?
Cashews and shitty Mexican beer.
- If you could stage at any restaurant in your city, where would it be and why?
I would stage with Evan Funke during one of his Burger nights so I could learn and steal all his secrets.
- After a long day at work you go home and…?
Roll a joint.
- If you weren’t working in a kitchen, what would you be doing?
- Drink of choice?
- One cookbook you can’t live without/most referenced?
Cant say theres one, each provides a different inspiration. My favorite recent cookbook was the Manresa book by David Kinch. He is an absolute master.
- What’s the most overrated ingredient?
- Describe your cooking in one word: