When a handful of young chefs swept onto the Los Angeles scene a few years ago, they brought a derring-do, anything-goes style that worked. Their imaginative--and often improvisational--cooking became a Los Angeles trademark, much imitated elsewhere in the country. Chefs such as Michael Roberts of Trumps, Ken Frank of La Toque, Roy Yamaguchi of 385 North, and Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of the Border Grill and the City restaurant, are the most daring of the crop. But it could be argued that no one's recipes say "Los Angeles" with more abandon than those of the dynamic pair pictured above.
Feniger and Milliken cook with individuality, originality and joy, and the results defy imitation. Who would think of melon with Thai marinade or pickled tongue with crayfish sauce and pear? Or Poona pancakes, a rice-and-yogurt pancake inspired by Indian cuisine. Or Thai red curry and lime with mussels as served at the two chefs' latest venture, City restaurant?
Theirs is an interpretive American cuisine filled with ethnic surprises. Feniger and Milliken are students of the world's cuisines. They haunt markets in Los Angeles and around the globe for ideas and inspiration--and get it. Yet, they do not try to set trends: "We just cook what we would like to eat ourselves," Feniger says. At the moment their taste is toward the strong and spicy flavors that seem to captivate today's diners. Their recipe for Chiles Rellenos with green and red salsas, from the Border Grill, is typical of their bold approach. CHILES RELLENOS BORDER GRILL 6 poblano chiles 1 cup grated Mexican cheese (anejo) 1/2 cup crumbled fresh Mexican cheese 1 cup flour 3 eggs, beaten cup butter Red Salsa Green Salsa Sour cream