Currently the young chef de cuisine for the Los Angeles-based restaurant Otium, Chef Jonathan Granada was named one of FSR (Full-Service Restaurants) magazine’s 40 Under 40 “Rising Stars” of 2018. And he’s certainly no stranger to seafood. He serves as the West Coast Ambassador for New Zealand’s Ora King salmon brand and last month he was judged the North American champion in Ora King’s international “Inspired by Art” competition, where chefs were challenged to create an edible masterpiece inspired by a piece of art. The motivation for Granada’s entry, “Legacy,” was a photo collage created in homage to the great Chefs Paul Bocuse and Anthony Bourdain, both unfortunately recently deceased. We’re lucky to have had a chance to chat with Granada about all things seafood. Read on to find out what he considers the most-crucial prep tip of them all, and what his favorite dish is to enjoy at Otium.
(Editor’s note: We’re bookmarking an evening on our next trip to Los Angeles to enjoy all of Otium’s mouthwatering seafood dishes.)
Tell us a little about yourself and your background as a chef.
In 2007, I began working at Bouchon, a bistro in Yountville, in California’s Napa Valley. After moving up the ranks there, I switched over in 2009 to The French Laundry restaurant, just up the street. That’s where I met Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. In 2015, I moved from Northern California to L.A. to begin working with Hollingsworth on his opening of Otium, the contemporary restaurant where I currently serve as chef de cuisine.
What is your favorite way to cook seafood, and what is your favorite seafood dish to make (either at work or in your spare time)?
Recently, my favorite seafood dish to make has been ceviche. The amount of lemon or lime juice – that acid – along with the coolness of the fish, the crunch of the vegetables, and the fat of the olive oil is an incredible combination. As a child, I would always drink the leftover salad dressing, so ceviche reminds me of that freshness and acidity.
Many are intimidated by cooking seafood at home. What is your advice for aspiring seafood chefs? Can you share a tip for seafood prep?
A good tip for prep is to keep it cold!! Keep your refrigerator cold and do not let seafood sit out at room temperature. Always remember to use a sharp knife, too – it’s so important for keeping the seafood intact and looking presentable.
What is the biggest misconception about seafood?
That farmed seafood isn’t good. Most of the farming practices currently have the fish in the ocean, in their particular area, and is raised both sustainably and responsibly.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at your restaurant Otium?
Octopus from Santorini with tzatziki, cucumber and marinated red onion.