GuidesLos Angeles

The Future of Food Is Better Tools and Techniques

Illustration: Christopher Silas Neal

Forget trendy superfoods—even carrots can be made hip and fresh

 

I’ve found myself dreaming lately of potato latkes shaped like waffles, as served at Freedman’s in Los Angeles. In August, Freedman’s and its latkes featured in Bon Appétit magazine’s list of the 10 hottest restaurants in America. Jonah Freedman, who co-owns the restaurant with his sister Amanda and Nicholas Papadatos, has said that the aim was to re-create the classic Jewish deli—complete with pickles, Reuben sandwiches and brisket—but to make everything younger and cooler.

Mr. Freedman set out to re-engineer the potato latke. Much as he loved the latkes he grew up with, he knew he couldn’t achieve the texture he wanted with the traditional patties of shredded potato and onion greasily fried in a cast iron skillet. He told me that he figured out it was going to take five separate processes—bake, shred, waffle, freeze and fry—to get a latke that was truly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

 
Freedman’s extraordinary latkes (which I’ve yet to taste, alas) point to a key failing of our food culture: We are too hung up on ingredients and not interested enough in technique. We obsess about the nutritional benefits of this or that superfood, and do not talk enough about the difference that cooking methods can make.