Chefs’ meals fit for a Rex

Los Angeles Times - - THE PETS ISSUE - By Amy Scat­ter­good amy.scat­ter­good@latimes.com

Chef Bryant Ng’s chicken rice recipe calls for jas­mine rice cooked in a ginger broth and poached Mary’s free-range chicken. It’s a min­i­mal­ist dish, with­out any of the Sin­ga­porean-Viet­namese fla­vors, the fer­mented shrimp paste and sam­bal sauces that Ng used at Spice Ta­ble or that will load the menu at his new res­tau­rant, Cas­sia. This is be­cause Ng cooks his chicken rice dish not for his le­gion of de­voted din­ers but for his dog, Teddy, full name Theodore Roo­sevelt Lu­uNg, a York­shire ter­rier.

If you’re a chef, you cook for your cus­tomers, your fam­ily and your friends — and if your fam­ily in­cludes a res­cued mutt or your kid’s golden re­triever, it stands to rea­son that you might cook for them too.

Most of us who cook and also have pets are used to shar­ing. We give our dogs leftovers, hand them mar­row bones, watch as our kids slip them meat­balls or make ba­con cakes for their birthdays. But with grow­ing con­cern about the safety of the food chain — for peo­ple and for an­i­mals — chefs are cook­ing more than treats for their pets. Some might say it’s over-in­dul­gence, but if you’re wor­ried about the in­gre­di­ents in your own din­ner, you may very well be wor­ried about what’s in that can of pet food as well.

Over at Red Bread, Rose Lawrence ini­tially just made baked crack­ers for her two res­cued pit bulls, Blue and Honey. Then she skipped the bak­ing, as she had enough of that to do for her own bak­ery, and started mak­ing han­drolled batches of mint and pars­ley pasta, shap­ing them into bows or mak­ing batches of lasagna with roasted sweet potato or beet purée, ground beef and a lit­tle Parme­san.

Pas­try chef Sherry Yard has made peanut but­ter whole wheat dog bis­cuits for years, giv­ing them away at Spago Christ­mas par­ties. And at McCall’s Meat & Fish Co. in Los Feliz, co-owner Karen Yoo, a for­mer Sona pas­try chef, bakes dog bis­cuits in the shop’s bak­ery. She says the shop also sells 10 to 15 pounds of bones a week for dogs, as well as chicken, salmon and beef to cus­tomers who buy meat not only for them­selves but for their pets.

But the chef who might have them all beat is Deb­bie Lee, au­thor of “Seoul­town Kitchen” and an alum of “The Next Food Net­work Star.” Lee cooks for her dog, Jackie, a lab-shep­herd mix, ev­ery day. Lee says that she started cook­ing all her dog’s meals at the rec­om­men­da­tion of her vet, to help nurse her back to health af­ter she was res­cued. For break­fast, Lee makes her oat­meal with bananas and peanut but­ter; for din­ner a mix of brown rice and chicken, beef, lamb and chicken liver with sweet pota­toes and berries. Lee, whose spe­cialty — for peo­ple — is Korean street food, also gives her dog bone broth.

“Def­i­nitely the chef in me plays into how I cook for her,” Lee says. “If I won’t eat it, I don’t ex­pect her to.”

Lee says that she’s be­come so in­ter­ested in cook­ing for Jackie that she’s been think­ing of de­vel­op­ing a “farm fresh” dog food line. “The next phase of my chef ca­reer,” she says.

And maybe the next phase in all our cook­ing.

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