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Chef Zach Pollack inspired by Italy

RELATED: • Chef Ryan Pollnow calls the shots • Rising Stars: Marjorie Meek-Bradley • See more Rising Star Chefs

Photo: Dylan + Jeni

Maybe in another life, Zach Pollack was born and lived in Italy, somehow connected to food. In this life, he grew up in Los Angeles believing he wanted to be an architect. In pursuit of that career, he studied abroad in Florence. But frequent visits to the central market fascinated him and instilled a profound passion for food. Goodbye architecture. After returning home he worked at Grace for celebrated chef Neil Fraser, who taught him French technique. The experience was invaluable, but only cemented his love for Italian cuisine. Pollack returned to Italy and for nearly two years he worked his way through the country’s 20 regions, apprenticing in restaurants, toiling in salumerias and laboring on a lamb and pig farm. Back in L.A., he scored again, this time with another celebrity chef, David Myers of Sona. There he was heavily influenced by Myers’ precision, though Sona’s avant-garde cuisine was a million miles away from the simple Italian way. Finally, in 2011, Pollock partnered with Steve Samson to open Sotto, which focused on the regional cuisines of Southern Italy. For their work there, Sotto landed on several lists of the best new restaurants in America. Last year Pollock struck out on his own to open Alimento in the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A. It’s the restaurant he was born to create, one that reflects his Italian soul and Los Angeles roots. Alimento is creative and passionate, modern and rustic. Pollock is “combining flavors from all over Italy with those that the hip Silver Lake crowd craves,” Angelino magazine wrote. Clearly, he’s borrowing from all he’s learned, and the result is a masterful menu. Consider, for example, an item he calls Pig in a Blanket, a deliciously obscene sandwich consisting of mortadella (cured meat from Bologna), stracchino (a cow’s milk cheese from Piedmonte), brovada (a Friuli specialty of pickled turnips) and a bun made from spelt pastry. It’s a wonderland of a sandwich for $11 and the mark of a time traveler who has found his way home.

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