‘Journeys in Taste’ is a partnership with Lexus celebrating visionary tastemakers and their innovative craft from around the world. In the third episode of the four-part docu-series, Condѐ Nast House & Garden travels to Los Angeles to meet Miles Thompson. The 31-year-old chef’s star is on the rise in LA’s burgeoning multi-cultural food scene. Thompson’s culinary career has so far been defined by its multiplicity: In 2012, after stints in the kitchen at NOBU, where he worked under chef Alex Decker, he set up The Vagrancy Project – a nomadic dining experience that began in his bedroom.
On any given weekend, Thompson would conjure a nine-course meal from his compact apartment in East Hollywood. Here, with ingredients from the local farmer’s market, he would feed some 12 guests with food that was as avant-garde as it was delicious. That project burgeoned into the permanent Echo Park spot, Allumette, with Thompson subsequently travelling to California’s Sonoma and St. Kitts for a spell of cooking in the Caribbean. He has already lived multiple lives: Before turning his attention to food, he worked as an actor, most notably appearing in Miranda July’s award-winning 2005 indie film, “Me and You and Everyone We Know”.
Thompson’s cerebral cooking has not only earned him a reputation as a leading light in Los Angeles burgeoning multi-cultural food scene, but won him a position at Michael’s. This Santa Monica dining institution, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this spring, has a long-held reputation for nurturing new talent and pioneering farm-to-table cooking – and during his time there over the last few years, Thompson was no exception. Together with its founder, Michael McCarty, he set about invigorating both the menu and the interior to great acclaim.
Now, though the kitchen wunderkind is on a new solo mission - to spotlight Jewish cuisine, with plans to open a traditional delicatessen and eatery, known as an Appetizing Shop. It’s a project that's incredibly close to his heart: Thompson's mother comes from a family of Jewish immigrants, and sees these delis as the key to placing her heritage within the wider American story. “I love making and understanding things that are in their traditional form, but then I love turning them on their head,” says Thompson. His latest dish - the freshest of blue mackerel served on a bed of toast – sees pickles swapped for kimchi.
“Jewish food is by no means flashy,” he says. “It’s comforting and soulful and reminds you of the feeling of being at home.” And as the dynamic young chef drives through the city of Los Angeles, seeking out new ingredients and venues for his forthcoming project, he appears entirely at home in the new Lexus UX – on the move and hungry for the excitement of fresh experiences.