I’m in Los Angeles for Culinary R&D, a conference that Nation’s Restaurant News holds for corporate chefs at chain restaurants. I arrived a day early, yesterday, to run through the presentation I have to give and settle in before the conference starts this afternoon.
Coming early also gave me a chance to catch up with my old friend Matt Shapo.
Matt and I were co-features editors at The Tufts Daily long, long ago in the mid-1980s. We entertained the rest of the staff by engaging in witty banter while editing things. We had different editing and writing styles. Matt would take commas out and I would put them back in and probably add some more, or vice-versa, depending on who saw the article first. Matt taught me a looser style of writing, so that when I was editing stories in Bangkok, I would take commas out that Dave Peters — a brilliant Anglo-Icelandic Canadian with a certain penchant for order, who also was my immediate superior — would then put back in.
Dave is now a consultant of some sort in Toronto, and Matt is in charge of the web site for All Access, a trade magazine for the music industry. You might also recall that his wife, Jenn Saltzman, is the niece of former New York Daily News food writer Liz Forgang, making Liz and me friends-in-law.
Matt and Jenn have a two-year-old named Evan whom I hope to meet on Sunday, but yesterday the babysitter canceled so Matt and I ended up going out alone. We ate at Grace, partly because chef-partner Neal Fraser is giving a presentation at Culinary R&D tomorrow.
Matt had pumpkin gnocchi followed by diver scallops in matsutake mushroom broth and I had a warm autumn fruit salad (figs, persimmons, pomegranate etc.) with lentils, mizuna and curry dressing, followed by braised pork shank with garlic rapini, smoked shallot & chorizo home fries in a cider sage sauce. I drank a glass of 2005 Château Soucherie, a Cabernet Franc from France’s Loire Valley.
We had huckleberry donuts for dessert, and ordered a chocolate hazelnut torte to take home for Jenn, because it’s very important to be kind to your friends’ spouses.
Grace is on the cutting edge of water service. They use a reverse-osmosis process to make their own still and sparkling water, for which they charge $2.50 a person. Matt and I sampled that, too.