Forget feta: When it comes to fronting brands, these L.A. chefs are all about Tiffany's

What do luxury watches have to do with artisanal pizzas? Ask Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo

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 Lexus and do events with them, and it’s a chance to showcase our talents along with theirs. We just want to be associated with high-end luxury brands. And honestly, for us as chefs there are gigs out there that might pay great money but it’s [expletive] stuff.

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 Stanley Cup [winner’s] rings. They’ve got an [L.A.] Kings ring [on display over] there and a [Seattle] Seahawks ring.

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. 

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