I was hanging out at Commissary LA this afternoon for their Lindy/Grundy Open House event, drinking a lovely Sight Glass pour over, when my friend Ryan arrived. I first met Ryan back in mid 2009 when he was barely starting to get out and be social. Despite the fact that he’s pretty much “a big deal” now, he continues to be a very good friend to me. This friendship was further solidified today because he introduced me to an amazing food nerd experience! It was almost like a dream.
As we were talking at the coffee shop, he told me that there was a guy slanging “juicy lucies” just down the street. I had no idea what that was…but he showed me a picture and said it was a burger patty with cheese in the middle. Cool…but I thought he meant like at a restaurant. Ryan explained that no, this guy was slanging in the backyard…like…and underground thing…today only…It took me a while to believe this was even for real. Ryan and I have had food adventures before (pig stalking) but this was so random. I was a bit hesitant but figured, hey! This is LA and new experiences are always nice. Plus, Ryan assured me this was for reals.
Ryan told me that this guy was doing it for free, but I still hit up the ATM before heading over because at the very least I hoped the guy would have a tip jar. Ryan had the address and when we got to the door there was a sign telling us to go through the side and walk to the back. Once there we heard some beats as we rounded the corner and found a guy in an apron manning a grill and getting ready to slang some burgers! I looked at Ryan and knew I was in for an adventure.
The young chef cooking for us was Christian Navarro (@hauteskillet) who Ryan had met when he was photographing at Test Kitchen. Christian was working with one of the visiting chefs. He has also worked at some Hatchi events and worked with Marcel Vigneron, among others. Yet today, he was cooking for us!
Of course he knew Ryan, but he asked where I was from and I said Santa Clarita. He responded with “Hey! SCV!” and instantly I became a fangirl. He grew up all over but is familiar with my ‘hood. It always warms my heart when people know where/what SCV is about and aren’t incredibly quick to judge.
Soon Christian brought out some croissants and got to grilling, adding an EPIC MIND BLOWING GAME CHANGING creamy lemon rosemary vinaigrette to the bread before putting them on the grill. I don’t speak “food nerd” often…but this vinaigrette really brought out all of the flavors. I love condiments…and this one may have been one of the best I’ve ever had. I want to bottle it up and put it on everything. Swoon!
He explained to us that the lemons he used to make the vinaigrette came from the lemon tree next to us. Locally sourced! Forget farm to table! This was backyard to table! How cool is that?
The Juicy Lucies were so incredibly simple, and I was just taking it all in as Christian prepped everything in front of us. From tossing the greens in a bowl, to laying out the bread on the tray…it was like our own personal chef experience. As he was plating, it made me realize just how much of a passionate cook he is. From the knife tattoo on his neck, to the burns on his arms…this is one talented young up and coming guy and he really provided all of us there an experience. He said he was doing this for free, but there’s no way I could leave without paying something! After asking him to at the very least set out a tip jar, he shyly agreed and I ended up dropping a $20…but an experience like this is pretty much priceless…
This was an underground event where Christian was doing this for the love of cooking and sharing his talents with people. He runs “Haute Skillet” and plans to do more events like this one, including some Chef Battles in the near future. Definitely keep an eye out for him in 2011. If today’s experience was any indication then LA is in for something good! Thanks Ryan for the heads up and to Christian for having us! I love LA! Experiences like this prove how much this city has to offer. You just have to be adventurous and open to new experiences to fully enjoy it all.
Burgers and Beats Underground Dinner
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