Third part of three parts, please start here with the first part
Chef Sergio Perera’s latest Amalur Project pop-up starting April 29th in Echo Park is one of several pop-ups he’s done recently showcasing his cuisine. These past and present pop-ups are previews of upcoming projects Perera currently has in the pipeline with his investors, who he routinely cooks for and describes as adventurous eaters.
The present upcoming pop-up will occur in two locations: First starting Monday, April 29th and Tuesday, April 30th in Echo Park at Cortez Restaurant where the initial run lasts six weeks and then second, at the Vienna Café on Melrose on Saturday, May 4th and Sunday, May 5th. If the second location goes well, these dates may also be extended, but for right now this second location is scheduled only for this one weekend.
Both the Echo Park and Melrose locations will have limited seating, approximately twenty six or so seats, and both will also have wine and beer (though customers are welcome to bring their own beverages). The menu will be a four course tasting menu for $55 (vegetarian option available) and a separate a la carte bar menu with items to share. Reservation information is available on the Amalur Project website.
These pop-ups will incorporate what Perera has learned about the Los Angeles food scene and Los Angeles food culture since he first moved to Los Angeles in 2008. According to Perera, “…if diners in Los Angeles have to think to too much about their food and what they’re eating, they get turned off by it. There needs to be a certain level of comfort and something that they recognize for them really to understand their food and really enjoy it…”
When Perera first moved to Los Angeles, he thought about opening the first molecular gastronomy restaurant. He was going to open this restaurant with a good friend who had worked at El Bulli for four years and was going to move down here to LA from San Francisco. The restaurant was going to around 30 seats. Much smaller than Jose Andres’ Bazaar that came a couple years later. Looking back, Pererea’s glad he didn’t open this restaurant.
When Bazaar opened in 2010, Perera was actually back in Spain working with his good friend and mentor Albert Adria who was opening up restaurants in Barcelona. Perera met Ferran’s younger brother in 2006 and reconnected with him at a food conference in 2008. Now Perrara returns to Spain twice a year to help Albert, his brother Ferran and their team with their upcoming projects; this September Perera is again returning to Spain to help.
In becoming a creative and innovative chef, Albert Adria is now Perera’s biggest and most influential chef, friend and mentor. According to Perera, “the El Bulli team of chefs is the most hard working and creative team of chefs out there in the world right now. They are family to me. We help each other out. My great friend and brilliant chef Francisco Mendez will be heading the new “Mexican” restaurant that Albert and Ferran are working on. Francisco “Paco” Mendez is a perfect example of combining beautiful and rich tradition such as that of Mexican cuisine with innovative techniques such as El Bulli. Watch out for this guy. He is going to be big.” Perera would also love to do a project with Adria some day.
Perera now is no longer interested in working at such a big restaurant like Bazaar doing six hundred covers a night. He had done that kind of volume back in NYC when he headed the catering company, as well as when he first came to Los Angeles at Asia de Cuba. With that volume, at that level, Perera finds it is just too difficult to be creative and consistent.
Perera wants to do food that approachable and affordable in an environment that personal. That’s why Perera is so fascinated by the food scene in Copenhagen that’s artistic and technique driven but, aside from NOMA, is affordable and approachable. Every restaurant in Copenhagen is using nicely sourced food, creatively done that’s fun
At his upcoming pop-up, this is exactly what Perera is aiming to achieve: Nicely sourced food creatively done that’s fun and served in a down to earth personal environment. To that end, Perera and his team, including chefs Jacob Kear and Steve Monnier, will be both cooking and serving the food to the guests. Perera is looking to create a dining experience, not a scene, that’s fun and whimsical as well as personal. By choosing smaller venues with only two table turns per service, Perera’s team will be afforded the opportunity to be exceptionally creative with his plates for the limited number of covers he and his team will be cooking for and serving to. With the $55 price point, Perera is also looking to make his upcoming pop-up dining experience both affordable and accessible.
Perera with his fun and whimsical approach to cuisine maintains his child like perspective. This perspective allows him to be creative, and reflects the mentoring he’s received from many of the world’s top chefs like Arzak, Aduritz and the Adria brothers, both Albert and Ferran: All of whom continue to think like ingenuous children, continue to have fun and continue to remain open to the world of possibilities.
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