Q&As

The Chef’s 8: Justin Taylor, Andaz West Hollywood

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” In that spirit, we’re picking the brains of those who make the latter happen: chefs. Next in our series is Justin Taylor of Riot House at Andaz West Hollywood.

Q The first dish you learned how to make:
A

Crème Brulee. My high school guidance counselor was nice enough to recommend me for a job at his friend’s restaurant and the chef there started all the ‘green ones’ on classic desserts. I guess they didn’t want us using a knife.

Q Every first-time diner at your restaurant should try:
A

I’ve yet to put my stamp on a menu here, but when I do, it will be roast duck breast with pink peppercorn and rhubarb agre-dolce. For the time being though, I’d say the spring vegetable risotto is delicious and a must try with all the Santa Monica vegetables in it.

I’ve yet to put my stamp on a menu here, but when I do, it will be roast duck breast with pink peppercorn and rhubarb agre-dolce
Q The best seat in the house:
A

The wine gallery. You’re right on top of the kitchen, yet still private enough to feel VIP.

Justin Taylor headshot
Q Must have kitchen tool:
A

A vita prep blender. Everything from aioli to kale smoothies comes out of these guys. I wouldn’t know what to do without it.

Q Favorite flavor or ingredient of the moment:
A

Sumac. It’s earthy and super citrusy and goes really well with vegetables and a variety of proteins. Sprinkle some on carrots or eggplant and they seem like long lost cousins.

Q After hours drink of choice:
A

An IPA. I like most micro breweries. California obviously has a bounty to choose from.

Q If you weren't a chef, you would be:
A

A guitarist. It probably makes sense that I’m working here now, with all the rich history in this hotel. I played guitar for years, but was never really good enough to take it seriously.

Q The city you would most like to eat your way through and why:
A

Tokyo. I’ve never been to Japan, but the respect for ingredients is amazing and it’s much more than sushi. The Italian cuisine is said to be great and the Michelin Guide seems to love the city.