In Los Angeles, it’s time to eat what you watch. Netflix Bites, the streaming service’s first pop-up restaurant, opens on Friday for a limited engagement at the Short Stories Hotel in West Hollywood. This transporting screen-to-table restaurant, which will serve dinner seven days a week and also offer weekend brunch, will feature a highlight reel of dishes, desserts and drinks from Netflix (NFLX)’s stacked culinary lineup, including:
- Rodney Scott (Chef’s Table: BBQ)
- Ann Kim (Chef’s Table: Pizza)
- Curtis Stone (Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend)
- Ming Tsai (Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend)
- Dominique Crenn (Chef’s Table, Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend)
- Nadiya Hussain (Nadiya Bakes)
- Jacques Torres (Nailed It!)
- Andrew Zimmern (Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend)
- Drink Masters mixologists
“I wanted to do this to let people know that what we did with Netflix was for real,” Scott told Observer at a preview event for Netflix Bites, which served his standard-setting whole-hog barbecue: pulled pork and ribs with collard greens, white bread and a habit-forming peppery vinegar sauce.
Scott, who runs his flagship Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston and other locations in Alabama and Georgia, also has hush puppies and crispy pork skins with pimento cheese at Netflix Bites.
This pop-up is powered by Curtis Stone Events. Stone, the Iron Chef dynamo who has his Maude and Gwen restaurants in Los Angeles, and his team have literally gone out of their way to recreate dishes from some of the country’s most formidable chefs. Gwen chef/head butcher Nestor Milian spent four-plus days driving one of Scott’s smokers from Alabama to Los Angeles. (The smoker, which Scott had in storage, was first transported from South Carolina to Alabama.) Milian quickly discovered there were perks to this journey when he stopped at barbecue joints along the way and got VIP treatment from pitmasters who saw Scott’s smoker.
For Kim’s pizzas, such as a galbi-topped Korean barbecue pie and the Lady Zaza with kimchi, sakura pork, scallions and sesame, Netflix Bites brought in a custom Italian wood-fired oven. Kim, whose Minneapolis restaurants include Pizzeria Lola, Young Joni and Sooki & Mimi, also has a summer tomato pie and a Minnesota pickle pie on the pop-up menu.
“The pickle pie is like a stoner pie,” Kim told Observer about the pizza topped with housemade ranch, dill, potato chips, smoked onions, fermented pickles and chili flakes. “There’s pickles because we don’t have the luxury of a year-round growing season. So we pickle and ferment everything. And of course I’m Korean, so anything fermented is great.”
Kim is at Netflix Bites to make a statement about being Korean-American and the vibrant food culture that you can find in seemingly unlikely places.
“Whenever people think of Minnesota, they’re like, ‘Where?’” she said. “It’s like flyover country. I want people to know there’s a lot going on in Minneapolis and it’s not just cheese curds. We have a diversity of flavors. People in Minnesota are eating bold, adventurous, funky flavors like kimchi on a pie.”
Speaking of fermentation, Stone explains Kim’s precise process for dough.
“With Ann’s pizza, it’s a five-day fermentation, massive hydration,” Stone told Observer. “Easy to work with when you throw the pizza, but it’s hard to work with when it’s a dough. … She sort of makes it more like a bread. And there’s so many nuances: how hot the oven burns and sourcing the right oven. If you don’t get the right oven, you’re screwed. So there was lots of back and forth with her, but that was fun. All the chefs have been awesome. I’m still in awe of their recipes.”
Stone, who has his own dishes like wood-fired lamb ribs and whole Dungeness crab curry on the Netflix Bites menu, obviously knows that this is a challenging pop-up to execute. But he had no hesitation when he was approached about it.
“I jumped at it,” he said. “I totally see it. Netflix has access to incredible chefs. As a chef, so many people have come up to me over the years and been like, ‘Oh my God, I’d do anything to taste that dish.’ So to give people an opportunity to taste those dishes, I think it’s a really cool idea. And having control over it, I’m alright. I would have felt differently if they were doing it in New York and it’s in someone else’s hands.”
For Tsai, who has dishes like new-style hamachi sashimi and smoked black cod on the menu, Stone’s involvement was a big reason why he said yes to Netflix Bites.
“This is the first time I’ve done a pop-up,” Tsai told Observer. “I’m leaving on a redeye. As a chef, it’s very scary to have other people make your food. Curtis and his team are real chefs. It would have been so hard to pull this off without them. Because of the confidence I have in Curtis, who’s really one of my great friends too, the decision to do this was a no-brainer. Can you imagine? Usually, you open a restaurant and it’s your food and you tell everyone how to do it and you’re done. Curtis has eight people’s recipes, and we all have different styles.”
Netflix Bites is about real recognizing real. It’s also something like a more pop-culture version of what chef Corey Lee did at In Situ, the high-degree-of-difficulty restaurant at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that recreated iconic dishes from many of the world’s most respected chefs.
“I remember going to it and being like, ‘Holy shit, how much pressure is that?’” Stone said. “The greatest chefs from around the world. And at some point you’re sending them photographs, or they’re going to come, or somebody they know is going to come. And how are you going to do Massimo Bottura’s Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart? I remember being like, ‘Wow, that would be crazy.’ And here I am.”
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