Mario Alberto is the executive chef of Laurel Hardware, the bustling West Hollywood restaurant and bar that offers a serious scene and serious dinner (and brunch and lunch too), and a restaurant that soon will open in the former Lola's space. Alberto, a Los Angeles native, is self-taught and has worked in kitchens such as Mo-Chica,
What's coming up next on your menu?
We are working on a berbere-rubbed jerky that is going to be prepared like a Thai salad. The other is a pork apple pie. Maple bourbon bacon, pink lady apples, apple cider and pork jus. Our inspiration is a McDonald's fried apple pie.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Lettuces are my biggest obsession. It lends itself for various applications. My favorite is the salanova from the Garden of ..... . It's the most well-constructed green. It's great for texture, crunch and depth. You can really taste the minerals. It holds up well to dressing and handling. It's exceptional.
What restaurant do you go to over and over again?
Seongbukdong. It's right in my 'hood. K-town is so rich in culture and food, but I find myself going weekly. The pork kimchi stir fry and sour kimchi hot pot are my favorite dishes. You find the chef, much like a mom, cooking all day. It brings me back home.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives?
Without a doubt the most important is the Cryovac machine. From a storage standpoint to a cooking approach, it's the most important tool. It's efficient and clean. It makes things easier to label, rotate and handle. We use it to bag our meats, poultry and vegetables for cooking. It's great for marinating steaks and vegetables. Great for holding pickles. I can't imagine being without it.
What's the latest cookbook you've read, and what inspired you to pick it up?
I revisited all the
Laurel Hardware, 7984 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 656-6070, laurelhardware.com.