Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Restaurant Nocturnes - Video tour of Los Angeles Dining - Part 1

The Fine Art of Dining - Yeah, I said it, but don't worry, this Chef is far from a pretentious food snob - I'm more of a bottom feeder. When the latest Food Network Top Chef winner opens up a downtown bistro that combines French and Eskimo cuisines, you won't find this Chef there anytime soon. But if I'm driving down Jefferson Boulevard and spy an upright sidewalk flaming grill with al pastor, and I see the flash of cleavers mincing chewy tripas on a grease-stained wood block, held up by a rickety folding table -- that I find hard to pass by.

In my latest video, Restaurant Nocturnes, I steer you through a neon-lit tour of L.A.'s dining establishments: everything from the latest and hottest to the old school, and from high-end to hole-in-the-wall. I can't say I've eaten in every restaurant I photographed (just the cheap ones) -- but I have chatted with the chefs, managers, maitre d's, waiters and bartenders to get a thumbnail audio clip description.

I started this series three and a half months ago, when I spied Susan Feniger's eight foot "walking man" signage hovering over the entryway of her restaurant Street - what a knockout piece of neon! I had to pull over to get a quick shot of it, and I haven't stopped shooting since. Los Angeles at night is a city of light - and my goal has been to capture that through its cafe society. I choose which eateries to shoot on a personal basis -- sometimes the restaurant strikes me as visually interesting; in other cases, it may be my go-to for midnight birria tacos after a Film Noir double feature at the Egyptian Theater. I've tried to mix it up. Plus, everything just looks cooler at night.

Each restaurant is lushly shot in a clip that lasts 10 -15 seconds; then it's off to the next one -- so don't worry, you won't get bored. I've shot stills of more than 100 cafes, with a tip of the chef's hat to restaurant critic Jonathan Gold's annual 100 (or 99) lists. But for this video, I've paired my images down to just 21 - presenting the most interesting mix in a whiplash five minutes. And I've provided a restaurant list (with links), in order of appearance, at the end of my post.

This is all original content, not e-gurgitation (my term for recycling other peoples' web-work and repurposing it). I start shooting during sunset (look for photos that have a blue sky) and continue until the restaurants start to close, usually around 10 p.m. So hey -- if you ever see me out in front, adjusting my tripod, stop and say hello, or better yet, let's get a beer !

By the way, these images are composed in Chefvision - my own technique of shooting 100 or so still photos per restaurant and stringing them together as a short movie - that's why the video is all so bright & sharp, even for nighttime!

So -- click, play, and let The 99 Cent Chef shepherd you through twilit L.A. streets on a unique tour of our bustling, ever-changing restaurant scene (locals, check off the ones you've been to). And Restaurant Nocturnes Part 2 is just a click away, here.

Restaurant Nocturnes - Video

Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes 51 seconds.

Restaurants in order of appearance, with links to their website (or a review), and my original "twitpic" photo post -- just click on underlined text.

1. Fatburger - twitpic, 2. The Foundry - twitpic
3. Catus #1 - twitpic, 4. Comme Ca - twitpic
5. Jitlada - twitpic, 6. Grace - twitpic
7. Angeli - twitpic, 8. Nickel Diner - twitpic
9. Street - twitpic, 10. Animal - twitpic
Canter's Deli - twitpic, 12. The Bazaar - twitpic
13. Soul Food Express - twitpic, 14. Wurstkuche - twitpic
15. Church & State - twitpic, 16. El Tepeyac - twitpic
17. The Gorbals - twitpic, 18. Kyochon - twitpic
19. Mozza - twitpic, 20. Pink's - twitpic
21. Encounter - twitpic

To view or embed from youtube, click here.

99 thanks to the restaurant managers, hosts, chefs, waiters, busboys and patrons.

1 comment:

Pasadena Adjacent said...

that was thoroughly entertaining

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