Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo
As most of our readers may know, Jon & Vinny have transformed the LA food scene for over a decade since their original restaurant, Animal. We were lucky enough to meet the chefs and entrepreneurs at our last Melrose pop-up and chatted at length about both brands. We released the first ever Jon & Vinny’s hoodies as a collaboration earlier this year and even served their soft serve at our Abbot Kinney pop up this year. We know you’ll enjoy this interview just as much as we did!
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Jon - The first thing I remember cooking is brownies with my older brother from a box and we burnt the sh*t out of them because he didn't read the instructions!
Vinny - Nachos in the microwave.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
Jon - I would be a firefighter.
Vinny - Botany
Can you speak on the LA food scene? The city seems to have gained a lot more respect in recent years. What do you attribute that to?
Jon - The LA food scene has blown up because of the media.
Vinny - I think the city was overlooked because Hollywood always takes a front seat. There’s way more to LA than just making movies and celebrities etc... the food has always been good here. The media always needs to find something new or make something new again so they started to pay attention to what people were doing here. I also think culinarily speaking chefs started to realize rent was pretty good, there were lots of little neighborhoods that deserve and want good food. People finally realized that central and Southern California have some of the best produce in the world.
What has your relationship with mental health been like throughout your life?
Jon - I think I have had a healthy relationship with mental health and have a good grasp on it.
Vinny - Work and life can be mentally difficult at times and I find myself needing to just move my hands or my body to get out of a bad space.
What do you like doing mentally to reset outside of the kitchen?
Jon - Sleep and spend time with my family.
Vinny - My favorite thing is being with my family, my kids. Doing activities with them.
Where do you find inspiration?
Jon - I find it everywhere. You never know what is going to inspire you.
Vinny - I find it everywhere… things I grew up eating, things I see out in the world, things I just dream up, testing, lots of failures, moods, and feelings all determine what I want to eat or cook.
Favorite menu item on the J&V menu?
Jon - Chicken Parmesan
Vinny - Tuna Brentwood with the addition of avocado and mozzarella
Favorite Madhappy Piece?
Vinny - Man… I rocked the Universal Sweatpant hard last winter!
Aliens come to earth for a peaceful visit and are looking to eat, where are you sending them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? (Besides Jon & Vinny’s of course).
Jon - For breakfast I'd send them to SK Donuts, Matsuhisa for lunch and Felix for dinner with our buddy Evan Funke.
Vinny - Wow the entire earth?! Tough choice… Gjusta for breakfast, lunch at River cafe (in London) sitting outside , Matsuhisia for dinner.
If you had a billboard that everyone in the world could read, what would it say?
Jon - "Can I have extra sauce? "
Vinny - We are all the same.