12/06/2013—If Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo were a pair of cars—rather than young, successful, nationally lauded chefs from the L.A. food scene—they’d each be a 2014 Lexus IS. Or a Lexus LF-NX. Or a recently redesigned CT 200h.
In other words, like the aforementioned luxury autos, the duo epitomizes the new, growing generation of Lexus drivers. Dues have been paid. Success has been realized. Some personal luxury is deserved. And there’s still plenty of room to run.
But even though Shook and Dotolo are now part of the Lexus Culinary Masters—the elite cuisine team that includes Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon, Michelle Bernstein, and Christopher Kostow—their global reputations, and food empire, are still rapidly growing.
So for those Lexus drivers who aren’t yet familiar with this culinary powerhouse, here’s all (well, mostly all) you need to know:
1. They now like to be called “master.” To quote Mr. Shook soon after the pair joined the team: “Who wouldn’t want to be called a master?” ’Nuff said.
2. They’re carnivore centric. Although the two have done stints together on Food Network (Two Dudes Catering), they built their initial reputation on their flagship restaurant, Animal, a barebones, small-plate, whole-animal-focused establishment. It’s everything an L.A. restaurant is apparently not supposed to be—yet it remains popular to the core.
3. They’re not carnivore centric. Put differently, these guys have serious range: Their acclaimed second restaurant, Son of a Gun, is seafood-focused, and their third restaurant, Trois Mec, which opened last spring with TV-famous food-truck chef Ludovic Lefebvre, is still considered one of the toughest L.A. spots to get into eight months after its launch.
4. They’re now building some sort of mystery restaurant. Their fourth restaurant will open across the street from Animal next year, and the foodie world wonders: Will it serve more creative meat dishes? Will it be a doughnut shop? Nobody knows anything, except that it’ll feature a beautiful space from designer Jeff Guga.
5. They know how to give big. With great power comes great responsibility, so earlier this year, the pair launched their Cooking with Friends series. How it works: Shook and Dotolo prep a special one-night menu alongside a fellow notable chef, with profits going to the charity of the guest chef’s choice. (They even launched their Lexus partnership with the September event to benefit Common Threads, which teaches children in underserved communities how to cook wholesome meals.)
6. They have friends in entertaining places. Among their buddies: Parks & Recreation’s Aziz Ansari (major food aficionado), actor/director Michael Rapaport (of too many films and T.V. shows to mention), and loads of other familiar Hollywood faces. Plus Mr. Shook is, of course, engaged to Shiri Appleby of the HBO series Girls.
7. They’re evolving. In the early 2000s, these guys were cooking their way around the country, honing their skills. Several milestones later, including a 2009 Food & Wine Best New Chef award and two James Beard nominations, they’re not just successful chefs and restauranteurs—they’re men of business, philanthropy, and family. Put differently, they’re young but definitely grown up. And the kind of guys to appreciate a Lexus.
8. They want to cook for you. Finally, their Lexus culinary event schedule for next year is still being determined, but they’ll likely be at the Lexus-sponsored Food & Wine Classic in Aspen next June. Stay tuned...