Philip Pretty is the executive chef at Fundamental LA, the Westwood Boulevard restaurant that by day is a sandwich shop and by night becomes a charming dinner spot with seasonal California small plates and a three-course menu (plus dessert) for $39 (you might also want to opt for the $18 wine pairings). Born and bred in Southern California, Pretty is a self-taught chef who has worked in kitchens across Los Angeles, including Providence, Sona and Joe's in Venice. He was chef de cuisine at Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel and executive chef at Axe on Abbot Kinney. On his menu at Fundamental LA: kanpachi sashimi with apple, avocado, cilantro and chile lime; steak tartare with smoked aioli, caper, cress and toast; house-made agnolotti with oxtail, peas, grapefruit, brown butter and Pecorino; kung pao octopus; carrot risotto with mint and Manchego; and California bouillabaisse with bass, tiger shrimp and mussels.
What's coming up next on your menu?
Next on the menu is a fresh take on grilled octopus. I'm thinking about running it with Regier Farms white peaches, watermelon radish and shaved fennel. It's hard to say exactly, until I've gotten the product in, but that's what I'm thinking.
Latest ingredient obsession?
I really like okra in the summer. I love stewing it with haricots verts, fresh tomato and chiles -- it helps draw the stickiness out and gives it a super pleasant texture.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
La Taqueria No. 3, hear where I live in Long Beach. They have the best al pastor tacos!
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives?
Quail egg scissors are a must. You can open quail eggs with a knife, but once you try these scissors, you'll never go back.
What's your favorite breakfast?
French toast with peanut butter and bananas!
Fundamental LA, 1303 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 444-7581, www.fundamental-la.com.