5 Questions for Sara Johannes
Sara Johannes is chef de cuisine at WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton downtown, Wolfgang Puck's latest take on Asian cuisine -- what Times restaurant critic called "the well-traveled cousin of Chinois on Main." Johannes is planning to do some traveling herself -- 10 days in Shanghai in the name of research on xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings). "The things you have to do for work are tough sometimes!" notes Johannes....
What's coming up next on your menu? We have started to see amazing summer vegetables and have been featuring them in our stir-fries and side dishes: sweet summer corn, tender asparagus, peas and pea tendrils.
Latest ingredient obsession? Softshell crabs -- they are the harbinger of summer, and are full of fatty, crispy-deep-fried, crabby goodness.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? Park's BBQ on Vermont. Whenever you can start a meal with a hot grill, 20 different ramekins of pickles and a hunk of pork fat, I think you should. Everyone should try the tongue -- it will make your day.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives? A pasta machine. And not a fancy one -- the old fashioned, hand-cranked, clamp-it-to-the-counter, carried-it-on-my-lap-on-the-plane-from-Italy kind. There is something deeply comforting and timeless about making your own pasta by hand. Perhaps its my Italian blood, but it strikes a very satisfying chord with me.
The last cookbook you read? An old, out-of-print book called "Chinese Gastronomy" given to me by my brother. I was reading up on Imperial Chinese banquet formats.
WP24, 900 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 743-8824, www.wolfgangpuck.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Sara Johannes. Credit: Kara Snider