Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” If you’re in need of such a meal, these gay and lesbian culinary experts have a proven history of delivering LA’s best.
No LGBT Los Angeles food article would be complete without Susan Feniger. Feniger wears many hats: Gay & Lesbian Center board member, Top Chef Master, restaurant mogul. “There was never an issue for me personally or emotionally,” said Feniger of her experience as an out chef when cutting her teeth in kitchens before moving to Los Angeles. “There were so many gay men in restaurants at the time, it was the norm.” With Mary Sue Milliken she established Border Grill locations in Downtown and in Santa Monica, a Border Grill Truck for the foodie-on-the-go, as well as an outpost in Vegas. “We always try to create dishes that we love, full of flavor and that push people to try new tastes.” The new menu at STREET, Feniger’s solo endeavor, premiered the day after the 2012 Presidential elections. “I love the new ramen,” Feniger said, “so great. The new dumplings, the sashimi—so yummy!” Rest assured, the kaya toast and chicken and waffles are still featured on the menu.
The personal histories of the wife-and-wife team behind the sustainable Lindy & Grundy butchery on Fairfax are as fascinating as the environmentally friendly practices they observe. Pasadena-born Amelia Posada met and fell in love with Erika Nakamura while studying journalism in New York. Originally from Tokyo, Nakamura was always enthralled by the kitchen and enjoyed dining about the city with Posada. Both former vegetarians with a mutual affinity for political activism and delicious food, the formation of a custom-cut butcher shop committed to serving local pastured and organic meats seemed natural. “We only get in whole animals, delivered on our rail system, then we custom cut them every day,” said Posada. Both she and Nakamura personally visit every farm with which they work, to ensure each purveyor stands up to their standards. To meet the demands of their busy customers, Lindy & Grundy offers a delivery service for select menu items. Additionally, the ladies hold private butchering classes regularly, guaranteed to impress your friends and family this holiday season.
“I have always been out and open,” says Shannon Swindle of both his personal and professional lives. Originally from Texas, Swindle credits two powerful factors that inspired him to don a toque and enter the kitchen: the seasonally driven culinary philosophy of Alice Waters and the creatively simple desserts of Austin-based chef Lisa Fox. “They were the first desserts that I experienced that weren't overly sweetened. Growing up in Texas, we had Southern-style desserts, and those are often very sugary. Lisa's allowed the fruit and chocolate to shine without the sugar.” Although his first professional foray into chefdom was under a homophobic manager who denied him opportunities for fear his sexuality would make others “uncomfortable,” Swindle says his kitchen experiences have been positive. “We've come a long way in this profession, and [Craft founder] Tom Colicchio is actually a champion for equality and gay rights. He speaks out about it often, and I couldn't be happier about that. Craft is a very open and accepting restaurant family.” Swindle admitted that his pumpkin clafouti, filled with poached quince and served with mincemeat ice cream, is his favorite dessert currently on the menu.
This charming Westside bistro has been satiating brunchers for years, thanks to the combined efforts of Chef/Owner Rayn Gonzalez and Front of the House Manager Matt Keller. Partners in business and in love, their passion for quality food, customer service and each other create a memorable experience for all involved. Gonzalez, who designs the menu items, cites his exposure to international cuisine while attending boarding school as influencing his passion for food and his open-minded outlook. “I feel that being out in the kitchen is a great thing,” he said. “I really think people look at me as an optimistic force in my kitchen.” Sunday brunches at Café Laurent have become something of a Culver City ritual to Westside gays and straights alike, and Gonzalez admitted that he feels these days are particularly special. “Everybody is happy. Most people like to sit on the patio, listen to live music—and you can bring your puppy with you!” Popular items include the eggs benedict, served atop a butter croissant with a side of delectable potato gratin, as well as the L’Espagnole omelet, complete with chorizo and panela.
4243 Overland Ave., Culver City
10100 Constellation Blvd., Century City
Lindy & Grundy’s Meats
801 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.
742 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood