FoodDaily Dish

Chef of the Moment: For Salt Air's Greg Daniels, the oyster is his obsession

Greg A. Daniels says his latest culinary divertissement is oysters, a recent interest fanned by the seafood focus of newly opened "beach bistro" Salt Air, where he's executive chef. The Buffalo, N.Y., native's culinary career started at his family's ice cream parlor, Frosty's. After attending the French Culinary Institute, he worked at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Perry St. in the West Village, where the menu mixes French, American and Asian influences. Now he's turning out fish skin chips with smoked onion dip, mussels in coconut curry, tempura calamari with harissa, Connecticut-style lobster rolls, bouillabaisse, plus a mean cheeseburger.

What's coming up next on your menu?

I can't wait to take advantage of the amazing produce California has to offer. Coming from New York has been a bit of an adjustment, as the markets are about a month ahead here; things that we would not normally see in New York until August are already in full swing. Next, we are adding a bruléed summer peach dessert with brown sugar pound cake and vanilla cream to the menu at Salt Air.

Latest ingredient obsession?

Not so much an obsession as a new hobby, but I've been trying to become an oyster connoisseur, and cycling through various types for our raw bar has been fun. So far, my favorites are Sweet Petites from Cape Cod.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives?

A digital scale. Consistency is really important to me, and all my recipes are to the gram. The goal is that, if you have a great meal here once, and you return expecting the same, you will not be disappointed.

Favorite kitchen soundtrack?

I'm old-school when it comes to this and prefer no music in the kitchen. People tend to lose their sense of urgency. If there has to be something, the soundtrack to "Rocky IV." I want people to cook as though they are avenging the death of Carl Weathers.

Your favorite day off away from the kitchen is ...

Cliché: I’ll let you know when I get one, but when I do, I will most likely not leave the couch — much less the house.

Salt Air, 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 396-9333, www.saltairvenice.com.

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