Ari Rosenson, executive chef at Wolfgang Puck's Bevery Hills steakhouse Cut, is waiting for summer tomatoes and meanwhile going wild with ramps. Cut might be all about steak, but Rosenson (also a potter and guitar player) is as dedicated to working with farmers market vegetables as he is to Wagyu beef. He started cooking at Spago (when it was still on Sunset Boulevard) at 16 years old and was part of the opening staff of Spago Beverly Hills, where he worked his way up to executive sous-chef before taking over the kitchen at Cut.
On his menu: veal tongue with baby artichokes, heirloom shelling beans and salsa verde; whole loup de mer with basil-Meyer lemon pistou; and, of course, precisely cooked steaks.
What's coming next on your menu?
I'm biding my time for some heirloom tomatoes from Coastal Organics. They are sweet, have such a delightful and earthy scent and the perfect balance of acidity. They are almost the perfect food. Maryann [Carpenter] makes my job easy. She grows them; all I have to do is cut them up and add a bit of salt, black pepper and Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Ramps. They are the ingredient that I look forward to the most around this time of year. I know when I get ramps that everything else spring soon follows. You can do anything to them: grill, blanch, pickle, fry … the list goes on.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
I love to grab a bowl of tokusen toroniku ramen at Santouka Ramen in the Mitsuwa Marketplace. The pork cheek is like butter, and the broth has just the right balance in depth of flavor and fatty goodness without being overly rich. And I always back the ramen up with a bowl of ikura rice.
Favorite kitchen soundtrack?
After watching "High Fidelity" for what could be over a hundred times, I have a deep appreciation for this question.... "Mannish Boy," Muddy Waters; "Can't You See," Marshall Tucker Band; "Achilles Last Stand," Led Zeppelin; "15 Step," Radiohead; "Mountain Song," Jane's Addiction; "Suffragette City," David Bowie; "B.O.B.," Outkast; "Passing Me By," Pharcyde; "Rocket Queen," Guns 'N' Roses; "Rusty Cage," Soundgarden; "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," Jerry Garcia Band; "Power," Kanye West; "Street Fighting Man," Rolling Stones; "River," Joni Mitchell; "Purple Rain," Prince; "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Procol Harum.
What's your favorite breakfast?
Built from the bottom up as follows: toasted everything bagel, a thin smear of cream cheese, sliced smoked salmon, a slice of heirloom tomato, a couple slivers of red onion, a few strategically placed capers, squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle of a buttery Ligurian olive oil and a couple turns of a black pepper mill. Served open-faced with a Bloody Mary.
Cut, Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 276-8500, www.wolfgangpuck.com.