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Food

Your next restaurant has a movie trailer

Smoked fish “pastrami” at Otium

In a Web video that runs almost four minutes, Chef Tim Hollingsworth traces the evolution of one dish — smoked hiramasa pastrami.

(Antonio Diaz)

Tim Hollingsworth’s new Otium restaurant — opening soon next to the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles — may be the first restaurant to have its own movie trailer.

No, there are no car chases, buildings blowing up or sonorous announcers starting out “IN A WORLD ...” but in a Web video that runs almost four minutes, Hollingsworth traces the evolution of one dish — smoked hiramasa pastrami.

It goes from the purchasing and butchering of the fish at International Marine Products to the table, with a special visit to Naoko Moore, supplier of the handmade ceramic donabes the fish will be cooked in.

And what it might lack in special effects, it makes up for in philosophical background.

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“The video is less about the restaurant and more about the chef and the philosophy and what goes into creating a dish,” Hollingsworth says. “We are trying to articulate the thoughtfulness that goes into it. It’s not just deciding ‘Hey this is fun, let’s put it on the menu.’ 

“It talks about my family and what growing up eating was like and everybody having a role. It shows all the different things that go into coming up with a dish and being creative and thinking about how to serve it. Each dish is really a combination of all your past experiences.”

Hollingsworth, says Otium, which is part of Bill Chait’s Sprout group of restaurants, is still on schedule for opening in conjunction with the Broad on Sept. 20.

“That’s still the date we’re shooting for,” the chef says. “It’s construction and it depends on passing inspections, getting utilities turned on and that kind of thing. But that’s what we’re hoping for.”

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Owner at Barrel and Ashes and former chef de cuisine at The French Laundry in Yountville, Hollingsworth says Otium will fall somewhere between the casual barbecue atmosphere of the former and the cutting-edge fine dining of the latter.

So, he figured, a video might be just the ticket to introducing people to his food in a more approachable way.

The dish at the center of the video, which was produced by Life & Thyme, is made with highly seasoned fish, lightly smoked in the jerry-rigged donabe rice cooker in which it is served. Hollingsworth says he calls it “pastrami” to give diners a point of reference they can relate to.

“You don’t want people thinking ‘It’s a sashimi of fish and you’ve smoked it, but I don’t know why,’ ” he says. “There has to be a reference point to make sense. When you say it’s based on a pastrami sandwich, it will make immediate sense to everybody.”

That combination of inspiration, polish and approachability is at the core of what Hollingsworth hopes for Otium.

“We want to be creative, we want to show technique and all these things, but at the same time, we don’t want it to be over somebody’s head,” he says. “We want to take the pressure off them. How do you bridge the gap between fine dining and casual dining and do it in a way that you don’t feel you have to be dressed up in a suit and it’s not intimidating?”

Otium, 222 S. Hope St., Los Angeles, otiumla.com.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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