L.A. CHEF JON SHOOK COOKS UP A STORM AT ART PEOPLE
No two chefs have made more of an impact on the LA dining scene than Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. The owners and masterminds behind Son of a Gun, Jon & Vinny’s, Animal and Trois Mec to name just a few of their award-winning restaurants, it’s the pair’s relentless innovation, ingenuity and quality in culinary practice that continue to drive their success.
So when Shook came to Beirut for a visit to mix it up in the Art People kitchen, and plan his new restaurant at Aïshti by the Sea, we caught up with him for a chat.
“The recipe for success in the restaurant business is quality and thought process. I am a classically trained chef but I take an informal approach towards restaurants,” says Shook. “Most of my venue concepts are related to my experiences growing up in Florida. It was all about eating hearty Italian food after T-Ball games [a cross between softball and baseball]. Jon & Vinny’s was conceived around the neighborhood pizza joints I remember from those times, and my Nonna’s traditional Italian cooking.”
Indeed, the laid-back Italian diner is all about warm atmosphere, a place were families can get together – including Shook’s. “At home though, it’s not all food. We tend to keep it simple, and concentrate more on spending quality time together.”
Though his restaurants may be different in theme, one thing and the single most important in Shook’s view, is constant: quality ingredients. “All our produce and ingredients must be and are always of the highest caliber in terms of freshness and quality.”
When it comes to Beirut, Shook’s first visit has been eye-opening. “I wasn’t sure what to expect but it’s been amazing and everyone’s warmth and vibrancy has been incredible. Working in the kitchen at Art People, the language barrier with the team at first proved a slight constraint but we soon connected and got cooking.”
Shook’s yet unnamed restaurant at Aïshti by the Sea will be his first and only one outside Los Angeles. We look forward to welcoming him back.