Q&A: DOMA's Dustin Trani
The rising Beverly Hills chef talks unique flavor combos and new show Knife Fight.
June 12, 2013
Chef Dustin Trani mans the kitchen at Beverly Hills restaurant DOMA.
Dustin Trani is not afraid of odd flavor combinations—in fact, they’ve become the cornerstone of many of his most delicious dishes. A fourth-generation chef, Trani began cooking at age 6, honing the craft in his family’s well-loved San Pedro venture J. Trani’s before teaming up with Dan Tana’s owner Sonja Perenvevic to open DOMA Beverly Hills (362 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-277-7346).
There, Trani has gained recognition for modernizing farm-to-table Italian cuisine with fresh takes on pastas and inventive seasonal seafood dishes. To boot, he was recently tapped as one of the initial competitors on the Esquire Network’s Knife Fight, a premiering-soon show about an underground food competition held here in LA. Trani told us more about the show, DOMA’s fare, and the LA food community in general.
What's a flavor combination at DOMA that doesn't seem like it would work, but is actually amazing on the palate?
DUSTIN TRANI: I try to incorporate the Thai method of cooking into all of my creations. Thai cuisine is an absolute play on all senses—citrusy, sweet, salty, and crunchy. We have a coco tortellini filled with shrimp and scallop mousse, served with sweet chili butter sauce, peanut butter, and sesame powder on our menu. That’s about as odd as you can get, and in that the dish the flavors love each other.
Tell us about Knife Fight.
DT: Knife Fight is an exhilarating cooking show unlike [anything else] on TV. Real chefs show you exactly what the industry is like—it’s simply the best chefs at their best. Personally, it was an absolutely awesome experience and I hope to compete again soon.
Is there one chef you'd be nervous to cook against?
DT: I don’t really think I’d be nervous to cook against anyone. I never mentored long-term under any chefs so I was forced to establish my cooking identity very young in my career. Now at 29, with 20 years of restaurant experience under my belt, I’m very comfortable in all aspects of food. I feel I have a strong base of knowledge to go toe-to-toe with anyone, really.
Is there a big community among LA chefs?
DT: In the last 10 years, LA has made its mark in the US restaurant culture and has seen some amazing talent emerge. We’re here to hold our own against New York and Chicago, and I think the city of LA really knows and appreciates good food.
Other than DOMA, what are some of your favorite LA restaurants to dine at?
DT: I’d say my favorite haunts begin with the no-sign taco shops and locals-only hole-in-the-walls, and extend on to Red Medicine (8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 323-651-5500) with Jordan Kahn, Michael Voltaggio’s INK (8360 Melrose Ave., Ste. 107, West Hollywood, 323-651-5866), and my all-time favorite Beverly Hills landmark—Spago (176 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-385-0880). I had one of my first eye-opening meal experiences at Spago at age 15; [it] changed my entire perspective on cooking.
Trina Merry's 'Objectified' at ESMoA
The body painter brings live art to the new lab at the El Segundo Museum of Art on June 15.
June 12, 2013
Live models become furnishings in Trina Merry’s 'Objectified' series at the El Segundo Museum of Art.
For one day only on June 15, renowned body painter Trina Merry will transform the new lab at the El Segundo Museum of Art into a showcase for her “Objectified” series. The exhibit will feature four separate installations with painted live models to demonstrate our attachment to household items.
Taking place within the museum’s lab and outside in an RV, Merry will create environments ranging from a Martha Stewart-inspired country cottage to a Tiki-style man cave. Each area—adorned with real furnishings crafted in partnership with artist Theresa Because—will incorporate live models painted to blend in with their surroundings. Styled to replace household items like coffee tables, chairs, lamps, and vases, the 15 male and female models will change their poses every 10 minutes to create an ever-evolving artistic display.
Those intrigued by the live art process can watch Merry create her distinct pieces from 10 am-5 pm at 200 Main Street, followed by the main unveiling at the lab from 5-8 pm. The artist will be present throughout the installation for impromptu Q&A sessions. While in the museum, guests should also browse TRUTH, ESMoA’s current art experience, which examines the concept of truth in art over the past five centuries. 208 Main St., El Segundo, 424-277-1020
3 Father's Day Dining Ideas
Diverse dining spots offer specials designed for dad.
June 11, 2013
Photography by Eric Shani (The Pikey); copyright Four Seasons (THE Blvd)
Dad's Day Gift Idea: Louis XIII Rare Cask
Surprise the guy in your life with a rare version of this cognac.
June 11, 2013
Rémy Martin’s Louis XIII Rare Cask 42,6 ($22,000) is the ideal gift for the cognac connoisseur.
Just in time for Father’s Day, Louis XIII de Rémy Martin launches Rare Cask 42,6—a luxurious French cognac aged for one hundred years and overseen by four generations of cellar masters. Discovered among the distinguished “tierçons” reserved for the Louis XIII blends, this particular cask yielded such an impressive flavor profile that it has become only the second Rare Cask released in the Louis XIII brand’s history. Producing enough for only 738 individually engraved and numbered decanters, the 42,6 contains a rare 42.6 percent alcohol and retails for $22,000.
Crafted from the traditional Louis XIII blend of 1,200 eaux-de-vie, the Rare Cask evolved a distinct aroma and taste that set it apart from the other casks. Featuring notes of plum and dates, the 42,6 flavor profile is rich and earthy, including touches of gingerbread, prune stone, and ginger, as well as tobacco leaf. The cognac is sold within an exclusive crystal Baccarat decanter, inspired by a 16th-century metal flask that features a rich black crystal adorned with a 22-carat rose gold neck. To purchase this rare piece of history, call the Louis XIII Rare Cask concierge at 866-204-6373.
Natural History Museum Toasts 100 Years
NHM debuts nature spaces and the Otis Booth Pavilion as part of its centennial celebration.
June 10, 2013
The new additions to the Natural History Museum realize a decade-long endeavor to make the museum an indoor-outdoor space.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County rang in its hundredth birthday this past weekend with a series of day-to-night festivities. The live entertainment, dancing, and after-hours DJ events on Saturday and Sunday (June 8-9) kicked off summer programming, and debuted the museum’s highly anticipated renovations to guests—which are a decade in the making.
An upscale dinner and afterparty cocktail reception on Saturday night culminated with a light and sound show to reveal the brand-new Otis Booth Pavilion. This mammoth glass entryway connects the museum’s interior to the new garden areas, and showcases one of NHM’s most prized specimens: a life-like 63-foot-long fin whale.
On Sunday, nature lovers could preview more new spaces. A three-and-a-half-acre urban wilderness expanse situated on the north side called the Nature Garden now offers nature-themed experiences and educational workshops. Spot butterflies and hummingbirds, track species with scientists on a nature trail, or partake in a gardening class. The Nature Lab, the Nature Garden’s indoor counterpart, will host science activities to explore biodiversity and the environment. Learn why there are so many squirrels in LA using interactive touchscreens, and create and upload your own experiences through social media integrations. 900 Exposition Blvd., South Los Angeles, 213-763-3466
Fashion Island Gets San Lorenzo Bikinis
Luxe Hawaiian-loved swimwear line debuts its first California location.
June 10, 2013
Hawaiian swimwear brand San Lorenzo Bikinis debuted their first mainland United States location in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island this past Saturday (June 8). The store celebrated with an afternoon soiree featuring Hawaiian appetizers, cocktails by VeeV Acai Liquor, live music, leis by Couture Flowers by Kimberly, a photo booth, and more. Guests joined Real Housewife Taylor Armstrong in browsing the latest collection of San Lorenzo Bikinis, as well as designs by Mikoh Swimwear, StoneFox Swim, Indah Clothing, Tiare Hawaii, Acacia Swimwear, and Kamera Jewelry.
San Lorenzo Bikinis began in a small sewing shop in Lima, Peru in 1991 before expanding to Hawaii, where it developed into a covetable swimwear brand and now boasts six stores throughout the islands. Known for their mix and match styles, San Lorenzo Bikinis also provides a variety of form-flattering cuts—the signature Brazilian style is sultry and sure to turn heads, though full-coverage suits are also available.
The Summer 2013 collection features a palette of mostly aqua and brown tones, with many patterns nodding to the art deco period trending right now. Styles run from $115 for one pieces and $95-$135 for bikinis. 271 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach
What We're Reading
Actress Esther Williams honored, Kardashian sculpture, Paris Hilton talks The Bling Ring.
June 07, 2013
Swimmer-turned-actress Esther Williams passed away this week at 91.
The LA Times paid tribute to iconic swimmer-turned-actress Esther Williams, who passed away this week. Williams starred in a string of successful films in the 1940s and ‘50s and was hailed as one of the country’s first pinup girls. [LA Times]
On the subject of a more modern star, Paris Hilton spills to Vanity Fair on Sofia Coppola’s film The Bling Ring. The movie chronicles a group of teens that robbed Hilton’s mansion in 2008, as well as the homes of several other Hollywood elite. [Vanity Fair]
Meanwhile, the art world can’t stop talking about the controversial debut of a statue depicting a naked, pregnant Kim Kardashian at LABART. The work was done by Daniel Edwards, who also sculpted Britney Spears giving birth, and is meant to comment on the media’s criticism of the star. [Huffington Post]
LA foodies will be glad that the cast of Top Chef Masters season 5 includes local chefs like Sang Yoon of Father's Office and Lukshon, and BLD’s Neal Fraser. [LA Mag]
In other dining news, LA Weekly reviews Trois Mec, the highly-anticipated collaboration between Ludo Lefebvre, and Animal owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Praising the restaurant’s fare for being both visually stunning and incredibly flavorful, the critic predicts that reservations will continue to be tough to come by. [LA Weekly]
Photography by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images
CHAYA's Summer Beer Garden
The DTLA brasserie adds Sunday service to its annual Summer Beer Garden series.
June 07, 2013
CHAYA Downtown welcomes the return of its popular Summer Beer Garden series, which will be in effect from now until Labor Day at its Downtown Los Angeles outpost. From Mondays-Fridays 4 pm-close, and for the first time on Sundays from 12-8 pm, diners can enjoy Japanese-inspired cuisine and signature cocktails on the restaurant’s scenic outdoor patio.
Designed exclusively for the Downtown beer garden, executive chef Atsushi Kenjo’s special kushiyaki menu consists of seasonal and sharable new bites. A variety of kushiyaki skewers, including beef tongue, shrimp, chicken, bacon-wrapped dates, and shiitake, are grilled to order on an authentic Hibachi grill flown in from Japan. Sweet white corn with feta cheese and jalapeño aioli; Polish sausage with sauerkraut and whole grain mustard; and spiced shrimp and veggie brochette with chipotle miso are among the other hot and cold BBQ-influenced items.
Popular drink options include house-made sake sangria, sake flights, beer-infused cocktails, and award-winning premium Japanese whiskeys. Specialty Japanese Biru comes by the pitcher, and CHAYA is the first restaurant in the US to debut Kirin’s frozen beer foam technology.
On Sundays, the Summer Beer Garden offers its all-day Summer Sunday BBQ experience. Whether you stop by on Sunday or during the week, the patio is always festively decorated to conjure a traditional Japanese beer garden, with a six-foot barbecue and a custom Yakitori grill. The space will host DJs and live bands in the coming summer months. 525 S. Flower Street, Downtown LA, 213-236-9577
Weekend Recommender: June 6-9
Shop Cynthia Vincent, attend the Ultimate LA block party, and try award-winning wines.
June 06, 2013
LA WineFest at Raleigh Studios features over 500 wines, brews, and spirits from around the world.
DASH Presents Cynthia Vincent Trunk Show
Thursday, June 6, 7:30-10 pm
Shop Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent’s Summer 2013 collection and get a preview of Fall at the Dash LA Summer Trunk Show. Enjoy Champagne, sweet treats, and the opportunity to meet and shop with the designer herself. 8420 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-782-6822
The Ultimate LA Block Party
Friday, June 7, 5-10 pm
Celebrate LA! invites you to join outgoing Mayor Villaraigosa, former President Bill Clinton, and emcee Ryan Seacrest at the ultimate LA street fair marking the end of the city’s Heritage Months. This free public celebration and concert stretches from the steps of City Hall into Grand Park and will include performances by mariachi legend Pepe Aguilar, the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, and a Grammy-winning surprise star. Showcases by renowned chefs like Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s Good Food, interactive sports with the LA Galaxy, collaborative art workshops, food trucks, photo booths, and games are also in store. Event is free and open to public. 210 N. Grand Ave., Downtown LA, 213-365-0605
Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival presented by Tommy Bahama
Saturday, June 8, 7:30 am-4:30 pm
This celebration of surf, paddleboard, and lifeguard history features ocean swims, lifeguard dory competitions, live music, raffles, and drinks at an all-day festival on the pier alongside the annual racing competition. Enjoy a pop-up surf culture museum, live bands and hula dancers, and Tommy Bahama rum drinks in the rum lounge overlooking the ocean. All proceeds benefit Heal the Bay and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. RSVP and get more information on santamonicapier.org. 200 Santa Monica Pier, Ste. A, Santa Monica, 310-458-8901
8th Annual LA WineFest
Saturday, June 8, 2 pm–6 pm; Sunday, June 9, 2 pm-5 pm
Sample a selection of award-winning wines from 13 countries, as well as craft brews and artisan cocktails, at one of LA’s longest-running wine tasting events. Benefiting homegrown charity Food Forward, this year’s festival will also feature interactive cooking demos from celebrity chefs Eric Greenspan of The Foundry and Chang Sivilay of the Mandarin Hotel, wine tasting seminars on Spanish varietals and artisanal cheese pairings, and popular food trucks like Losta Truck, Slammin’ Sliders, and The Surfer Taco. Tickets ($20-$155) can be purchased on lawinefest2013.eventbrite.com. VIP upgrades for $30 extra include early entrance, access to the VIP Garden, exclusive tastings, and VIP gift bags. 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
Photography by McCue Marketing
New Bar/Resto: Carson House
The Wilshire Blvd. spot emphasizes neighborhood-inspired cocktails, upscale American fare.
June 06, 2013
At Carson House, pair a craft beer on tap with comforting twists on American pub grub from chef Johnny Messina.
Carson House officially opened in the space that once housed the iconic Italian restaurant Andre’s of Beverly Hills on Tuesday (June 4). The brainchild of nightlife impresarios Scott Paletz and Steve Fowler, Carson House offers an upscale yet homey environment, complemented by head mixologist/bar manager Patrick Brady’s quality cocktails and an innovative American menu by chef Johnny Messina.
Laid out like an actual home, Carson House offers a variety of spaces to suit any visitor’s needs. Guests looking for an after-work cocktail or evening out with friends can grab a seat on one of the comfortable sofas in Carson House’s “living room” area, or cozy up to the bar where they can take in a game. Meanwhile, the “den” offers communal booth seating, and the dining room is ideal for guests wanting a more substantial sit-down meal.
The debut cocktail list spotlights libations named for the surrounding Beverly Hills streets. The Rodeo is a creative combination of Akvinta organic vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh cucumber, and rose petals, while the Brighton features Black Grouse scotch mixed with spiced apple cider, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Carson House also features an array of unique craft brews—including 20 on tap—all cultivated by beer director Kevin Olson.
For the initial dinner menu, expect a large selection of small, sharable starters like hot lobster sliders, crispy crawfish mac and cheese, and kobe beef corn-pups. Larger entrees like root beer-braised short ribs, a kurobata pork chop served “shake and bake,” and a French onion burger with Jim Beam dip, showcase Messina’s signature twist on American classics. 8635 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-289-2800
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.