Chef David Slay has another winner, this time in Hermosa Beach – Daily Breeze

For those of us who eat around, David Slay’s cooking is as much a part of our Southern California culinary life as Wolfgang Puck’s and David LeFevre’s. I mean, his dishes are all over the place—and they rarely, if ever, fail to amaze.

I don’t know what Slay’s food was like when he was the best chef in St. Louis; my regional snobbery makes me think it couldn’t have been as good. (Which may indeed be anything but classic Californian exceptionalism!) But I got to know him, too, when he moved to Los Angeles many years ago and opened David Slay’s La Veranda in Beverly Hills . His cooking was simple, clean, not flashy, but always so good.

The only dish I remember, because it is a food from my childhood reimagined as an adult dish, is his pastina of the day. Pastina is a small, star-shaped noodle – a great dish for a sick child who needs to eat but doesn’t want to eat anything that involves chewing. My mother used to make it, using a box made by Ronzoni, with melted butter and salt, which was about as exotic as her cooking.

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Reuniting with pastina in a real restaurant, reconsidered by a skilled chef and made with a different flavor every day, was downright exhilarating. Mixed with porcini mushrooms or seafood or just some meat broth turned the little stars. It made them shine. And he told me that David Slay was inspiring… and unpredictable.

After Beverly Hills, Slay moved his food to Orange County, where he opened Park Avenue Steaks & Chops, which has since closed, and il Garage, both in Stanton, near Anaheim — and both were built around his obsession Slay to grow his own vegetables, a love of clay that dates back to St. Louis. And he grows the vegetables served at his namesake Manhattan Beach Steak & Fish House. To which Slay Italian Kitchen added.

And more recently Kill Hermosa (also known as Slay Beach Grill), in the space that was home for many years to El Gringo – an oddly shaped eatery at a curious intersection that seems to be neither here nor there. (For the record, he also created Slay Estate and Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills; Slayer’s label is all over the wine list.)


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