Every week, we're turning to a trusted tastemaker and Talking Taste in all its forms. From favorite meals to must-have music for eating, drinking, and making things happen, we want to know what makes creators and influencers tick—don't you?
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Illustration by Paige Vickers
You might not have ever tried Fijian food, but once you taste this seafood-heavy cuisine centered on open-air cooking methods wood and seawater marinades, you'll be dying for more. L.A. restaurant E.P. & L.P.'s Instagram always leaves our stomach growling, and it's all thanks to buzzed-about Aussie-Fijian Executive Chef Louis Tikaram. He's putting Fijian food on the map with mouth-watering dishes like a wood-grilled baby green lib abalone in the half shell with curry paste and aromatics, and Fijian-style ceviche made with rock shrimp, coconut milk, lime and chili. Inspired by his Fijian-Chinese-Indian heritage and Southern California's local produce, Tikaram is a true taste master—but we'll let him tell you himself.
Name: Louis Tikaram
Occupation: Executive Chef, E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood, CA.
What you'd do if you weren't doing your day job: Playing Basketball, surfing, and hanging with my wife Jorja.
One food or drink you couldn't live without: Fish sauce!
What do you have great taste in? Sneakers and flower arrangements.
What do you have bad taste in? Movies... I'm a sucker for rom-coms and cartoons.
Who, to you, is an influential tastemaker, and why? David Thompson of Nahm in Bangkok. He is cooking traditional Thai dishes which are hundreds of years old, sourcing specific, rare and unique ingredients to stay true to the recipes, and educating diners about Thai tradition and history.
How do you expand and refine your sense of Taste? (i.e. where do you go for inspiration) I try to dine out every meal and if I am cooking at home, I will try and cook a dish or meal that I've never cooked before which has been inspired by one or several of my recent dining experiences. For inspiration, I often try to find the most traditional and rustic restaurants or street food; street tacos and small family-run restaurants are my favorite. They are hard to find though—that's part of the adventure.
What is the best-tasting thing you've ever eaten? That's a hard one! Maybe barbecued goose in Hong kong, or a ripe red papaya straight off the tree in Fiji. Mmmmmm actually, probably, my grandma's chicken masala curry and fresh-cooked roti with tamarind chutney. Yeah, thats the one.
What does taste mean to you? Taste is everything to me and it is the one thing I have in mind when creating a dish or writing a menu at E.P. If it tastes good, I will put it on the menu. The dish has to be balanced in flavor and texture for me—if it isn't tasty to begin with, I go straight back to the drawing board.
E.P. & L.P. is one of the hottest knew eateries in West Hollywood and while the original, well-executed menu keeps fans coming back, the overall dining experience—music included—is what really makes it special. We compiled a playlist of some of Chef Louis's go-tos. Take a listen below: