What do luxury watches have to do with artisanal pizza pies? More than you might think -- especially if the pizzas in question are coming from a kitchen run by chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.
A few months ago, venerable jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. rebooted its timepiece business with the launch of new watch called the CT60. Inspired by a Tiffany style from the 1940s that was a birthday gift to FDR (and which he apparently wore while attending the Yalta Conference), it's a clean, round, masculine-looking, Swiss-made watch that manages to feel both a tiny bit retro and timeless all at once. To help introduce the collection to a new, younger generation of men ("guys who don't necessarily think of the name Tiffany when they're thinking about watches," as a Tiffany rep put it) the company tapped Shook and Dotolo, two of L.A.'s hottest chefs (Animal, Son of a Gun and Trois Mec, the latter in collaboration with chef Ludovic Lefebvre) and UTA clients to serve as brand ambassadors.
Their first order of business was hosting a private June 4 party at their new jewel-box-sized Italian eatery, Jon & Vinny's, on Fairfax, where the dynamic duo dished on everything from footwear collaborations to who they think is L.A.'s best-dressed chef.
All The Rage: Are either of you watch collectors?
Jon Shook: Over the last two years I've started to get into watches and I have a couple of Rolexes now. The newer one's a Submariner, and I also have a vintage one that doesn't have a model or style name it's just numbered #1,126. And I have an IWC that I wear in the kitchen -- but I'm not a geek about it.
ATR: Tiffany makes luxury watches and you guys are chefs, so what exactly does this partnership do for you?
Vinny Dotolo: It doesn’t “do” anything for you, but it’s nice to be associated with great brands. We also work with
JS: Five years ago we did this thing with Jennie-O frozen turkey and at the end of it we looked at each other and said: Never again."
VD: We were so embarrassed; I wouldn't serve that at my house.
ATR: What other brands have you worked with?
JS: We're doing a thing right now with All-Clad that's about to come out, and we just launched a product line at Williams-Sonoma that came out about 10 days ago.
VD: We just want to do really quality [stuff]. The quality of Tiffany and the legacy of the brand -- the history, the materials -- that all aligns with how we do things. That's the same with Lexus and Williams-Sonoma.
JS: A lot of our friends are just whores, man. They'll take everything and anything.
VD: It means more to us than a paycheck, actually. I want to look back on my career and see that we associated ourselves with like-minded brands, not that I raked in $50,000 off a [expletive] feta cheese I'd never use. I'm going to be proud to wear this watch.
ATR: Speaking of watches, which one is your favorite?
[Both men point to versions of the 42 millimeter Tiffany CT60 Chronograph with a black dial. Shook's favorite sports a black alligator strap, Dotolo's has a metal band.]
ATR: If you had to pick one thing -- from any of your restaurants – that would be the menu-item equivalent of the CT60 watch, what would it be?
JS: Probably the grilled quail [with plum char-siu, yogurt, pomegranate and apple] over at Animal. It's a very precious dish, but not precious in a sense that you think it's not edible. It's very clean, modern and it has good color and when you look at it, you say: 'Wow, that's beautiful,' but it's not so beautiful that you don't want to eat it and destroy it -- and that's how I feel about this watch. It's precious but not too precious to wear in the kitchen.
VD: Because we're in Jon & Vinny's right now, I'd say the L.A. Woman [pizza topped with burrata, tomato, basil, olive oil and sea salt] because it's luxurious, it has a sense of simplicity to it -- and there's a simple, elegant look to all the Tiffany watches. The L.A Woman is a timeless pizza that's luxurious, beautiful, simple and resonates with everybody -- both men and women.
ATR: What's your earliest memory of Tiffany & Co.?
JS: I’ve given my wife pearl earrings and a pearl necklace from Tiffany in the past. But one of the cool things -- that I didn’t even know until tonight -- was that they make all the Super Bowl rings for the NFL and the
ATR: If Tiffany made the equivalent hardware for the chefs that win James Beard Awards, what would it look like?
VD: A spoon. I think a golden spoon would be insanely cool.
ATR: Is there anything else you have in the works right now?
JS: We're doing a collab with Vans shoes -- kitchen Vans -- I'm wearing a prototype [pair] right now. They're still in development but the bottom treads are reversed to help with traction. When they come out we'll have different shoes for Animal, Son of a Gun and Jon & Vinny's and depending on how it goes, we might do a pop-up next door. ... That's the thing about working in a kitchen -- your clothes always get ruined. That's why I always wear Joe's Jeans and buy my Gildan 50/50 T-shirts 40 at a time from cheapestees.com. But you know who's the best-dressed chef in L.A.? Nancy Silverton. She doesn't have any rules -- she'll wear a Prada dress in the kitchen.
The Tiffany & Co. CT60 collection for men and women includes 34-millimeter, 40-millimeter and 42-millimeter watches in stainless steel or rose gold ($4,250 to $15,500) available at Tiffany boutiques and online at tiffany.com.