At Fiona, Nicole Rucker and Shawn Phan Are Making the Food They Wished To Consume
From the appearances of their résumés, Nicole Rucker and Shawn Pham– the duo behind Fiona, a brand-new all-day pastry shop and dining establishment on Fairfax– may appear like an unforeseen pairing. Rucker, among the city’s most amazing bakers, established the pastry programs at Venice’s Gjelina Eliminate and Gjusta, and, later on, at the doughnut store Cofax. Pham prepared at dining establishments like West Hollywood’s Sona and Century City’s Craft prior to opening Simbal, an ahead-of-its-time Southeast Asian area in Little Tokyo that shuttered in early2017 After constantly encountering each other while working pop-ups and collective suppers, the 2 formed a relationship; when it came time for Rucker to debut her long-awaited pastry shop, sharing the spotlight with Pham was an apparent relocation. “Shawn is extremely gifted,” Rucker states. “I truly simply wish to consume the food he’s making and cooking. I wished to play because band.”
Strolling into Fiona seems like strolling into the Land of Oz, just with much better food: A happy emerald-and-gold dining-room is accentuated with a marble-topped pastry case, one that houses Rucker’s famous pies (chocolate chess, essential lime, whatever fruit remains in season) and possibly thick pieces of chocolate Bundt cake. On the menu, Rucker’s sourdough nation bread works as a canvas for Pham’s imaginative toasts, one topped with a fermented black garlic spread and dates, another covered with an addicting Indian-inspired yogurt and embellished with fried curry leaves and 2 sort of chutney. Throughout lunch and supper, Pham broadens his collection: mouthwatering masa pancakes crowned with guacamole and toasted-pumpkin-seed salsa, a niçoise salad with veggies marinaded in dashi broth, and a Vietnamese beef stew served with a flaky scallion pancake. If there’s something unifying the chefs, it’s that both are cooking precisely the sort of foods they themselves long for. “We wished to surpass the basic café menu,” states Pham.
Another thread linking the 2: a focus on self-expression and a familiarity with the aggravation that opts for it. Pham has actually closed a dining establishment, and Rucker handled an enthusiastic pastry shop job that failed in 2015. “We sort of bonded on an intellectual level,” remembers Rucker. When she completed her very first cookbook a couple of months earlier, Pham evaluated all the dishes for precision– no little task for a chef who had actually never ever baked a pie. Much of those influenced desserts now have a house at Fiona, which likewise serves a white layer cake with vanilla custard and vanilla icing– a display for top-flight vanilla beans– and a riff on Pepperidge Farm’s Milano cookies filled with Peruvian chocolate. If you combine the cookies with among Pham’s mouthwatering meals, all the much better. “There was a chance to do something various by integrating our backgrounds, and, to me, that was the most crucial,” states Rucker. “The amount winds up higher than the parts.”