I moved here a year and a half ago, and I didn't have a job because I came to open a restaurant.
[It took a long time to lock down the space so] I hit a point where I talked to my business partners and said, "I need to do something." When you don't have a restaurant, you're not really in the mindset to create the dishes.
We'll treat the calendar as a linear time frame with three- or four-month blocks that slide and touch on the seasons around it.
For the first night [of official service], we weren't sure what the dynamic would be, but everyone was very receptive. I don't think an opening night could have gone better. Matcha can get very bitter and upset the stomach, so they would need some food in their stomachs, and the monks would eat rice, miso soup and pickles before having the matcha.
Well, monks start going back and forth to each other's monasteries, and I'm going to screw this part up a little bit, but essentially egos kicked in, and people started making the menus more elaborate. All kaiseki would have that component, but then they started adding on to the beginning.
Chef Dave Beran rose up the revered ranks at Chicago's Alinea, one of only a dozen or so U. restaurants with three Michelin stars, and then rose to fame as the Executive Chef at the Alinea-affiliated Next.
From its 2011 open through 2016, Beran oversaw Next's themed tasting menus like Paris 1906, el Bulli, Bocuse d'Or and The Hunt, during which time he earned a James Beard Award and Food & Wine's Best New Chefs honors.
At one point, I was just talking to him about menu structure, and it hit me: "I'm in L. I can get strawberries year round." I don't think there's anywhere else in the country where you could get amazing strawberries year round from a farmer, so why don't we do that.
Embrace the seasons and say, "This is a look back, but we can still use something that's fresh now." What storytelling elements do you weave into the coursing?
With most tasting menus, all courses have their own identities. You have a bunch of courses put together that all work together, but they don't identify with each other.
We went the other way and treated it more like a book.
The morning after his first official night of service, Beran spoke with PRØHBTD about culinary storytelling, fermented persimmon, burnt onion ponzu and why he can't drive 55. Friends & Family [preview nights] are tough because you know everyone, and the premise behind Dialogue is an intimate space where we share conversations.
It's basically like a sushi counter: You've got eight seats at a counter and 10 seats at a table.
Every summer I would visit him, and he would plant roses for me, and we would pick them together.