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Ep. 4, Loghmeh: Whole Animal Roasts & Middle-Eastern Culinary Traditions

At a pop-up dinner in Los Angeles, a skilled chef and butcher introduces a communal experience of whole-animal roasts influenced by her Iranian heritage. Across town, another chef grills fragrant kobee, a traditional Syrian croquette made of spices, ground beef, bulgar and pine nuts. The aroma of smoke coming from these grills is intoxicating, and the scent can trigger all kinds of memories of home and family. For these two women of Middle-Eastern descent, food is a way to link back to their cultures while gifting a piece of their traditions to their communities.

In this episode, we meet Debbie Michail who’s worked alongside some of the best chefs out there, from Mozza’s Nancy Silverton to Angelini Osteria’s Gino Angelini. Her work is influenced by her Iranian grandmother’s cooking and her own experience cooking gourmet Italian. At her Logmeh LA events, she and fellow butcher Alex Jermasek invite guests to experience large-format roasts over a fire, something she believes brings people together. In Farsi, “Loghmeh” means to “savor in one bite,” and Michail sees Middle-Eastern cuisine as a kind of “soul food,” where we honor animals with nose-to-tail cooking and aren’t afraid to eat with our hands.

We’re also introduced to Wafa Ghreir, whose Kobee Factory restaurant in Van Nuys serves as an outlet to showcase her pride in her Syrian culture and food. She’s seen the Syrian community grow in size since immigrating to the United States in 1977 and wants to spread the love that is embedded in Syrian cooking through the universal language of food. As the devastating civil war in her native country rages on, Ghreir sees her dishes as a way to preserve her heritage for her grandchildren and the community. To have the chance to enjoy meals prepared by these two women is to gain an understanding of their legacies.

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The Migrant Kitchen 1-Hour Special

Los Angeles’ booming food scene is being shaped by a new generation of chefs. Visit almost any kitchen in Los Angeles and it is likely you will find a migrant chef combining ethnic cuisines with new flavors and techniques. And often within the food, is a story of their migration.

“The politics of migration, the labor economy, all that drama plays out in the restaurants that we go to,” says journalist and author Rubén Martínez

'Mexican'

A collective of culturally connected, distinguished chefs (including Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, Wes Avila of Guerilla Tacos, Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, as well as Jorge Gaviria of corn purveyor, Masienda) work to preserve heritage and push forward the “Alta California” Mexican food movement. By celebrating those dishes and ingredients integral to Mexico's cuisine and its economy, a group of accomplished Mexican-American chefs are working to elevate not only the food, but what people of their heritage can achieve in the food business.

'Vietnamese'

Banh Mi. Spring rolls. Pho. The war and its subsequent refugees. These are things most commonly associated with the Vietnamese culture and its people. But a group of chefs in Los Angeles (including Cassia's Bryant Ng, Diep Tran of Good Girl Dinette, and Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs) are hoping to demonstrate that there's so much more than that. Featured in the episode: Cassia in Santa Monica, Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park, Red Boat Fish Sauce.