In Salt & Straw founders Kim and Tyler Malek, Jon and Vinny see a bit of their own journey as out-of-town transplants making their way in Los Angeles. The Maleks built a reputation for celebrating Oregonian ingredients at their Portland operation, and they brought the same sourcing values to California when they expanded there in 2014. Lavender grown in Paso Robles, strawberries cultivated in Oxnard or tangy goat cheese made in Arcata find their way into flavors scooped at the three Salt & Straw outposts in LA.
Jon and Vinny have a long-standing affinity for The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. Owner Norbert Wabnig supplied the guys early in their careers, when they were too small to work with major purveyors, and over time the relationship deepened—they even catered Wabnig’s daughters wedding. Today, the shop continues its legacy as a place to learn about and shop for international cheeses, along with other gourmet goods, like wine, olive oil and charcuterie.
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills: 419 N Beverly Dr, Los Angeles; 310-278-2855; cheesestorebh.com
The Los Angeles art world has been very welcoming to Jon and Vinny, who see a kinship between artists and chefs: In both fields, you need a command of your senses to produce work, and a wealth of inspiration to inform it. They find plenty of the latter in the collections at LACMA, but it’s the museum’s dedication to making art accessible to the public that has most influenced their come-as-you-are restaurant philosophy.
LACMA: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles; 323-857-6000; lacma.org
Nobu Matsuhisa may be the world’s most recognizable name in sushi, with an empire of Nobu restaurants that stretches from Dallas to Doha. But the chef enjoyed his first big blush of success 30 years ago at Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills; according to Jon and Vinny, the place still serves the most pristine fish in town. As they continue to expand their own restaurant family, the guys look to Matsuhisa as a paragon of maintaining quality and consistency, even as a brand explodes.
Jon and Vinny tap some of the inspiration they find at Matsuhisa at their own seafood-focused restaurant, Son of a Gun. Their lobster roll is dressed with celery and lemon aioli and topped with delicate fried potato chips in a buttery bun.