6/20/2014—By the time you read this post, the Lexus-sponsored Food & Wine Classic in Aspen will have launched the culinary summer—a festive mingling of cooking demos, wine tastings, and celebrities that add up to one giant mountain food party.
One of the festival’s more intriguing demos this year is the aptly named “You Want Me to Eat What? Nose-to-Tail Meets Uncharted Waters,” and we say aptly, because the guys behind it are none other than Lexus Culinary Masters Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo—the pioneering chefs behind the massively popular L.A. restaurants Animal and Son of a Gun.
For those unfamiliar, these are the chefs who’ve added seismic energy to the city’s perceived food culture with absurdly creative, whole-animal, meat- and seafood-centric menu items that clash with everything the L.A. scene is supposed to be, which is to say lavish and ultra health conscious. Consider Animal’s crispy pig head with short-grain rice, bulldog sauce, and soy egg, shown here:
Should you decide to enjoy these creations firsthand, know this: the chefs are now giving Lexus drivers some VIP treatment. Lexus owners dining at Animal will receive "an exclusive surprise treat" when they show their Lexus key fobs to the server staff. (Also know that other Lexus Culinary Masters offer special Lexus-owner treatment at their restaurants, too.)
Shook and Dotolo, by the way, are opening two new L.A. restaurants this year. One is an extension of their ongoing partnership with French chef Ludo Lefebvre, called Petit Trois. The other will open across the street from Animal—a highly anticipated affair.
The anticipation is partly due to the pair’s culinary rep, and partly due to the venue showcasing something completely different for the duo, which is say modern and pleasantly upscale, as indicated by their restaurant designer, Jeff Guga, whom Shook and Dotolo met through iconic design-book publisher Benedikt Taschen.
Guga, who worked with Frank Gehry for just under a decade, is known for modern, elegant spaces painted with light—a far cry from Shook and Dotolo’s almost counterculture contribution to the L.A. food scene.
He’s renovated residential modern architectural landmarks by Gregory Ain and worked on designs for Walt Disney Concert Hall, Seattle’s Experience Music Project, Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance, New York’s Lincoln Center redesign, and The Standard Downtown L.A. hotel.
Together Guga and the chefs will unveil something intriguing when their collaboration finally opens to the glee of food bloggers inside and outside L.A., and they’ve decided with their forthcoming project to work with and respond to the Los Angeles elements that make the sprawl unusually exciting: light, nature, the arts, and nods to street and architectural style.
—Adam Baer and Brian Gill