Jon Shook is often credited with changing the culinary scene in Los Angeles, so his place on this list should come as no surprise. Jon met his partner Vinny Dotolo while attending culinary school at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. After graduation, the two continued their professional journey together, first at The Strand in South Beach, then at Mark’s, The River House, and Wildflower Restaurant in Vail, CO. After a short stint as Harrison Ford’s personal chefs, Jon and Vinny launched the catering company Caramelized Productions in 2004.
In 2008, Jon and Vinny decided to open a place where, for once, they could choose the menu. Animal, their “meat-centric, farmer’s market-driven restaurant,” opened in 2008, and in 2009, Jon and Vinny received Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs Award”; in addition, Animal was nominated for a “Best New Restaurant” award by the James Beard Foundation.
In addition to his work with Vinny, Jon is also the co-owner of Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia with another chef on this list, Ludo Lefebvre. If a chef’s talent can be measured by the company he keeps, Jon has it in spades.
Specialties & Resources
As a caterer, Jon demonstrated a unique ability to cook anything his guests could want, making him one of the more versatile chefs on this list. At Animal, the focus is more on the “whole-animal” ethic embraced by another chef on our list, Chris Cosentino. Jon has utilized his experiences in other kitchens to create a menu that is at once conceptually daring and traditional. At Animal, offerings include spicy beef tendon chip with charred onion pho dip; veal brains with vadouvan, apricot puree and carrot; rabbit larb with minutina, herbs, thai chili and crispy shallot; Mongolian sweetbreads with shiitake mushrooms, scallion and kochukaru; and bone-in ribeye with bone marrow butter and potato aligot.
No chef survives long without displaying a willingness to adapt their cooking style to incorporate other styles, and Jon’s dedication to honing his craft and expanding his range has served him well in his pursuits. At Trois Familia, offerings include churro French toast with salt & straw vanilla ice cream and Mexican chocolate; beet tartare tostada with cornichon, lime and avocado crema; and the Galette crepe with egg, chorizo and jack cheese.