A restaurant slinging $6 lattes in a gentrifying neighborhood is tackling questions of community.
Chef Joseph Geiskopf doesn’t necessarily want to be known as the Noma guy, but word of his time at René Redzepi's boundary-breaking Copenhagen restaurant precedes him. And last November, he formally brought that experience to a coffee shop in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood, along with co-owner David Wynn.
Triniti is a restaurant in the space of a coffee shop—in a mere 650 square feet, it turns out plates of salmon belly with watercress and yuzu kosho, along with the requisite almond lattes and freshly baked bourbon caneles. Geiskopf calls it fine casual, or neo-bistro: cooking “at times very serious food in an approachable setting.”
He and co-owner David Wynn are hyper-conscious of this approach—and its clientele—given the diversity and gentrification of the neighborhood. Geiskopf has lived on L.A.’s Eastside for the past several years, despite working across town—including in Culver City at Destroyer by Jordan Kahn, who’s recently been making waves with his spaceship restaurant Vespertine.
To be intentional about this community cohesion, Wynn and Geiskopf are hosting a series of four dinners this year, collectively to be called The Life Cycle of Food. In them, they’ll be exploring sustainability: Not just for the environment, but for the community. What does it look like for a business like Triniti, which serves $6 almond lattes, to live and work and be a part of the diverse community that is Echo Park? How does it exist as a symbiotic part of the community, not just within it?
These questions don’t necessarily have answers, but they’re being asked a lot around L.A. these days, especially in neighborhoods like Echo Park, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock.
Wynn and Geiskopf have been working with Akasa, a non-profit that works with schools in Echo Park—and greater Los Angeles—to teach kids urban farming and cooking. Akasa will be donating lemon verbena farmed by the kids for the upcoming first dinner, to be used for a tea. It’ll also reap a portion of the profits. Hence: The Life Cycle of Food.
“We think [Akasa] deserves more praise, awareness and support than anyone else,” Wynn says. “Their programs can only exist with the support of people and businesses that see and believe in its value to the community. These students represent the future health of our community, the future decision makers, and possibly future teachers, cooks and ambassadors to health here in L.A.”
Community refers not just to the local neighborhood, but also to the network of farms in Southern California that allow Triniti to exist. Geiskopf and Wynn work with these farmers to source produce that is perfectly good, but most people might not think about. They use only overripe fruit for their housemade jams, for example. Sake lees, a byproduct of making sake, are going to be featured in a dish of mochi, Weiser farm potatoes, and pickled shallot. Triniti’s buttermilk is used to culture their housemade butter. The bones of Norwegian “skrei” cod will be roasted in blackened butter that’s umami-laden. Due to the coffee shop’s small space, and also the neo-bistro cooking Geiskopf has been inspired by, its daily cuisine is highly cyclical.
The first Life Cycle of Food event will take place on March 25, and feature wine pairings by Garcons de Cafe, and will be hosted at Arts District coffee shop Daily Dose. Tickets are available here.