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Chef of the Moment: Josh Drew steps in at Fifty Seven this week

Josh Drew takes a turn as executive chef at downtown restaurant Fifty Seven.
(James Bailey)

Josh Drew is the next scheduled executive chef at Fifty Seven, the downtown restaurant with a rotating roster of chefs who each cook for a flexible “season.” Drew succeeds David Nayfeld, who exits Fifty Seven this week. Drew, who most recently was executive chef at Farmshop and has worked at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa Valley, Quince in San Francisco and Vetri in Philadelphia, also is chef-partner of a coming restaurant, Argentina-influenced Cordoba in Los Feliz. Cordoba is set to open later this year. Drew takes the helm at Fifty Seven on Thursday. The menu at Fifty Seven will focus on seafood and local meat and produce such as whole lambs from Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark and dry-farmed strawberries and tomatoes from Larry Thorne in Malibu. Share plates include wild spot prawns a la plancha; griddled California provolone with Windrose Farm flowering marjoram and pecans; porcini mushrooms, Crimson Lady peaches and balsamic vinegar; and Persian cucumbers with mulberries, creme fraiche and anise hyssop.

What’s coming up next on your menu?

All things summer. I’m excited to have an opportunity to get back into the kitchen, and you couldn’t ask for a better time of year to do exactly that.

Latest ingredient obsession?

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Vinegar. I started a batch a few years ago that we let turn naturally rather than using a starter culture, and I’ve since used that base mother to make all sorts of different flavored varieties. It’s a great tool to have stashed away in your larder.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?

Yakitoriya over on Sawtelle. My buddy Jon (owner of Japanese Knife Imports) and his wife, Sara, first introduced me to that place, and I go at every opportunity. Toshi-san is an absolute master of everything chicken, and it’s hard to go wrong with anything, most specifically for me the soboro gohan, bonjiri, koniku and sweetbreads.

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

I’ve had this pair of saucing spoons since I was 17 that are my absolute favorite. I pretty much always have one of them either in my hand or at hand.

What chef has most influenced you?

Jeff Cerciello, without a doubt. I worked for him for over eight years, at three different restaurants, in every iteration from a prep cook to executive chef. I wouldn’t be the man or the chef I am today without everything he’s taught me.

Fifty Seven, 712 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 816-8157, www.fiftysevenla.com.

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