How I met my friend and LA Food Scene expert, Chef Kyle! and his favorite gluten free and vegan way to prepare a summer toast . . .
When Hae and I first moved to Los Angeles, we were dirt poor and reeling from the closure of our beloved Grease Box. I was fighting daily feelings of failure and depression, but I knew we were gonna start something here in LA and I just couldn't wait to get it going. But, in the meantime, I had to work.
I'd say, one of the hardest things to do after closing a business is getting a job. And even though you love the work, having a boss when you used to be the boss just sucks, ya'll. No way around that. I tried to get a job where I'd be able to learn the most, so I picked a high end, chef driven, celebrity studded West Hollywood late night spot that didn't even have a sign. It was hidden in a non-descript parking lot, and the entrance was near the back of the building deep into the parking lot. The only indication that something was happening there was the parking lot full of fancy cars and the suited men standing out front. This was of course to shield all the celebrity clients from the paparazzi, and I'd come to learn that these types of places are quite normal in Los Angeles. But once you found the long lit hallway inside, it was like a secret garden, complete with trees growing in an open air courtyard and two beautifully lit bars staffed by actors and models who were 'between projects.'
It’s no secret among restaurant workers that most kitchens tend to be disproportionately staffed with more men than women, which in turn, can breed a culture of toxic masculinity that can be easily described as bro-y. Being a queer, outspoken, confident woman and a Celiac, I was a total outsider. Even though I kept my head down and did my job, the typical kitchen abuse ensued and I was the easiest target. I was in charge of the fry station which is the busiest station on the line. I was also in the one station that did not have a printer, which meant I had to depend on the food expeditor and the other line cooks to call out my orders. The guys up the line from me would often 'forget' to call my tickets, or call the wrong dish out just to trip me up, then they would tell the chef I was slow and couldn't keep up with the rest of the line. Unfortunately for them I was still able to keep up no matter how much they tried to sabotage me. Since I have a food allergy, I often never got staff meal, a necessary perk for working 8+ hours on a hot line with no breaks. So, the job was alot to handle to say the least, I always had to bring my own food, and I had only one sous chef on my side (Love you Kristie!!)
Enter: Kyle. When Kyle joined the staff I was reasonably skeptical. I didn't want to work alongside another bro line cook who was just gonna make my life more difficult. He walked over to the table where I usually sat for staff meal with Kristie and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized . . . HE'S GAY OMG YES. We became fast friends, he advocated for me when the other line cooks were trying to throw me under the bus, and he always made sure I had something to eat for staff meal.
Kyle has worked at a number of great restaurants in Los Angeles and picked up alot of skills along the way. He's a virtual encyclopedia of the LA food scene, always bumping elbows with line cooks at high end spots and always swinging by the hottest under the radar pop ups. When I asked him for a recipe, he wanted to do a SuperBloom version of one of his favorite dishes from KISMET: Broccolini Toast. Here's our vegan spin:
- Thick sliced sourdough
- Olive oil
- One bunch each of broccolini and asparagus
- 1 tbs capers
- Lemon juice
- Mint leaves (or any herb you have on hand)
- Salt to taste
- Heat a skillet on high until its very hot. Quickly dry toast your sliced Sourdough on the hot skillet and set aside.
- Cut the tough ends off of the broccolini and asparagus. Add olive oil to your hot skillet and sear the veggies until charred. Turn off the heat, but leave the veggies on the skillet while you season them.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and then squeeze half a lemon onto the veggies. Toss to combine.
- Mash you capers with a fork and mix them into a batch of Toum.
- Spread the Toum and capers on the toast, then put the veggie mixture on top. Garnish with fresh herbs like mint and parsley! You can store whatever veggies you don't use right away in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Just heat on a skillet and serve!