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Real Food: Short Order

Ready to kick off Real Food Summer? We’re excited to start off with a recent chat we had with Chef Christian Page of Short Order in L.A.

Short Order, created by culinary innovators Nancy Silverton and the late Amy Pressman, features traditional comfort foods that are all made with locally raised, organic, artisanal, and handmade products. Silverton and Pressman found the perfect chef in Page, a creative and thoughtful chef with an impressive resume, who devotes much of his time to carefully sourcing all of his ingredients.

Although the restaurant offers a kids’ menu, Page admits from the start that he’s never worked in a restaurant with a kids’ menu before. (Note to moms and dads: That’s a good thing.) At first glance it looks like pretty standard fare: hamburger, corn dogs, macaroni and cheese. But there’s nothing out of the box here. Each kids’ menu item is basically a mini version of the adult food, carefully sourced and well-pedigreed.

In fact, Page has first-hand experience with all of his suppliers. ”I have visited everybody,” he says. “I can honestly say that I know where everything on this menu comes from.”

You can get a good sense of this when you dig deeper into each menu item. For example, the corn dog is made by the North Country Smokehouse with an all-natural lamb casing, breaded with Anson Mills organic cornmeal and served with organic mustard. The milkshake base comes from Straus Family Creamery; each day Short Order spins the custard on-site in a $40,000 specialty machine. All of the buns are baked right next door at Short Cake. And all of the grilled items are cooked over a wood-burning grill, fueled by wood from (what else?) local almond trees.

While our 8-year-old assistant wolfed down a milkshake and corn dog, we had a chance to chat more with Chef Page and hear some of his thoughts on sourcing and creating great food (for kids and adults alike):

On helping people understand what goes into the food they eat: “One of the hardest things we’ve had in the U.S. food system is a lack of transparency. It was all about brands. Now, it’s more about the product. A lot of people come [to Short Order] just because they like the food. Now I’m spending more energy trying to get people to understand the ingredients.”

On why the restaurant was prompted to create a kids’ menu: “People don’t want to spend $12 on a burger for a kid.  I’ve watched kids eat. They’d order Nancy’s burger [Silverton's classic dry-aged beef blend burger] but they’d say ‘take this off, take that off’ – then they’d leave half of it there. I wanted to make it easier for kids to eat here. We’re happy to have everyone eat here.”

On being selective about the ingredients that go into each menu item: “Frankly, just trying to get all of these products is difficult. But the product is a lot better. Sometimes the produce people send me garlic from China. I send it back.”

 

On getting people out of their food ‘comfort zone’: [When people order a menu item without a certain topping or side] I wish I could just walk out to them and say, ‘Just try it.’ People need to get out of their usual comfort zones. That’s something that doesn’t just apply to kids; that’s something that goes on for your whole life.”

On what he’d like people to come away with after eating at his restaurant: “People should have more of a connection as to where their food comes from and how important the quality of ingredients are.”

Short Order, 6333 W. 3rd St., Stall #110 (Farmers’ Market at 3rd and Fairfax), Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 761-7970

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