My life changes so much from one day to the next. Every 24 hours is so different, whether I’m in my home in DC or one of my restaurants or travelling. So the first thing I had yesterday morning on was the food tray on Virgin Airlines. Which was not so bad, really, because it was so simple: yogurt and fruit. It shows how airlines can sometimes not complicate things too much. You know, when people look at me and say how much they hate airplane food, I say to them, “Are you crazy?” It amazes me that anyone can serve anything so high up in the air! It’s such a challenge to think, “Someday I could partner up with airline.” I hope this is a challenge I can tackle in the next five or ten years.
So I arrived in L.A. and I didn’t really have anything else. Oh, I had a cup of coffee up in the sky, and before I boarded I had a latte from Starbucks. Then I came to the hotel, SLS. I love being at this place, but I’m really here to check on how everything is working in the kitchen. It’s my food, so I ate my food. I had our Caprese sandwich, which is a pressed sandwich, like a panino, that had bocconcini and baby tomatoes on top, so I got that. And then we tried different things we were working withI had some bites of chicken wing and baby corn on the cob.
So then I was meeting a friend at Matsuhisa and we did the tasting menu togetherit was a quick tasting menu, really, beginning with edamame and miso soup and with many seafood selections: oysters, Monterey shrimp, unbelievable. Three or four different sushiswhite fish, red snapper, octopus, baby abalone from California, which was beautiful, and we ended with sweet eel, which to me is perfect. It’s the ultimate sea dessert. I believe that Japan and Spain are so similar, even though I’ve never been to Japan. I have a friendship with the chef from Mibu in Tokyo who came to El Bulli and cooked when I was there. It was like Japan came to us, and it was a great experience. I’m also such a big fan of Nobu Matsuhisa; he’s one of the nicest guys around.
After Matsuhisa, I came down to the restaurant here for dinner service, around 6 or 6:30. Inside The Bazaar we have a chef’s tasting room called Saam, and I had dinner with two great friends—Sami Hayek, the designer, and his girlfriend, Daniela Villegas, who makes jewelry. Such great people. We were joined by a good friend of mine, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, who’s visting here in L.A. It’s really laid back in there and you can just enjoy the wine and conversation. Let’s see, we had all kinds of things—Dragon’s Breath (which is like caramel popcorn), the Norwegian Lobster, the Nitro Gazpacho, some sea urchin, our Olive Oil Bonbon. And we all had a flight of different wines. At Saam, we give you four wines at the beginning and you just pick and choose what you want with each course. This was created by my sommelier, Lucas Paya, who used to be the sommelier at El Bulli. There’s a Spanish flight, a sparkling flight… It’s all about giving more freedom and power to the customer. One of the wines I had was a great Pazo de Senorans Albariño, from Galicia, a great Albariño, one of my favorite wines from Spain. I love it. So when we finished—20 courses, all well directed by my maître d’, Felix, who also came from El Bulli.
Then we went into the heart of the storm—Bar Centro in The Bazaar, and we had the drink that I really love here: The Ultimate Gin and Tonic. You have a choice of four different gins. I like Hendricks, and I like Bombay Sapphire, too, we make it with lemon verbena, crushed juniper berries, chamomile… It’s a very fragrant kind of gin and tonic, and we put a big ball of ice in the glass. The bigger the ball, the less contact, which doesn’t mean less cold, it just means less ice melting to dilute your drink.
Today I had some breakfast up at the swimming pool lounge, which is called Altitude. It overlooks the palm trees of L.A. from the top of SLS; this for me is orgasmic. I had watermelon fresco, a great Mexican watermelon juice, and then I had Eggs Benedict (but not really cooked my way, which is very light). And then I had a cappuccino. But I don’t come here to glorify myself or have a vacation, just to make sure we do it well. I’m our toughest critic.
Right now I’m at the lobby at the SLS. I love lobbies at hotels. And I really love this one, because it’s like my hotel. It’s amazing to just watch people come in and have coffee or tea. I’m having Marcona almonds at this beautiful marble bar created by Philippe Starck, and we’ve come all the way back around 24 hours. So is it the ending of the cycle? Or just the beginning of the eating adventure of the rest of my life?