LIVING PROFILE: ARI TAYMOR
Ari Taymor is the mystique behind the menu at this month's featured Alma restaurant. Paired with his business partner, Ashleigh Parsons, Ari takes his memories from his California upbringing and translates them into delicious & innovative meals. With decadent ingredients locally sourced from sustainable farms and fishermen, environmental awareness + quality are the secrets to his success.
Alma currently hosts residency at the iconic Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, where you can indulge in different combinations of his collected inspirations. He took the time to tell us how Alma came to exist, and how culture + health + environmental justice played a role in living his daydream.
How are the first hours of your morning usually spent?
I usually get up, eat, go for hike with Sage, or go to gym.
After you’ve woken up- how do you begin to tackle work for the day?
I usually wake up to bunch of emails- where I kind of get a sense if we have any events going on that day, if we’re doing some kind of collaboration, demo or project. I typically touch base with my kitchen managers & business partner, Ashleigh.
Do you use any apps to keep you + your staff organized? How do you communicate ideas and plans?
We communicate in pretty much any way you can. Through text, emails, in person, sit down meetings, if everyone is in the restaurant together we’ll communicate there.
When we got together to collaborate on the cocktail, I noticed you had a “family meal” before you opened for dinner. I thought that was beautiful. I’ve worked in the food industry for as long as I can remember server, bartender, host and have yet to experience that! What does eating together before the night begins do for your staff?
Really? I’ve never worked in a restaurant that didn’t have that. For most of the staff that’s the one meal we get to sit down and eat all day, everyone is running around, eating in the car or eating very quickly. It’s really the time for everyone to collect their thoughts, and get their mindset right because service industry takes a whole other sense of energy.
With the rise of social media + resources such as Yelp, almost anyone is a food critic these days. As a creative, how do you handle the vulnerability of a restaurant with today’s sensitive consumerism?
I don’t pay attention, read or interact with yelp at all. There is no real way to measure if people have really eaten at the restaurant or not and I don’t find it to be an accurate reflection. I also don’t want to pay yelp money to sort my reviews… to remove the bad or promote the good ones. I don’t interact with them on any level. In terms of social media for us lately it has been positive but it’s not really something that I pay attention to too much. I prefer to be in the restaurant during service, interacting in person, and if there were issues, to fix them in real time.
I have previously read that you were not largely influenced by food in your childhood and it wasn’t until later in life your passion for cooking developed. Did internal health and self-care play a role in the birth of Alma?
Yes, definitely. I was in college and it was combination of health, culture and environmental justice that lead me into kitchen.
Through our Living Profile interviews, NOTO botanics’ goal is to unveil how members in the community practice mindful self- expression. How does Alma incorporate that into their mission?
We have always been 99% locally base in terms of sourcing, through small farms and farmers markets. Pretty much doing so without any middle men or purveyors. We interact directly with all the farms we source from, down to a fish company that can trace their fish back to a specific boat.
That’s pretty amazing. What local markets, farms, butchers etc… are your favorites to work with? Why?
Santa Monica’s farmers market is one we are at all the time. For fish it’s a company called Sea to Table- its’s the only one I’ve ever worked with that can directly trace where it’s fish come from – they work with single fisherman, based out of regional docks from Florida to Maine and Alaska to San Diego. They have a high level of accountability, transparency & quality, they don’t source fish that isn’t sustainable or caught ethically
What are some people/places/or things that have inspired some of your plates?
Definitely the culture and environment of California. The California coast, memories of growing up here, and the beach + surf culture it offers.
Three ingredients you couldn’t live without…
Oh man, that’s not easy. I guess I’d have to say salt, citrus & eggs.
Mmmm!!! You seem passionate about your day job. How do you unplug and separate business from pleasure? How do you clear your mind?
It’s really a day to day process, being conscious of what works and what doesn’t. Stop paying attention to what is being said on the internet, stop being worried about what is going on when I’m not at the restaurant. We’ve hired great people and trained them the best we can, sometimes the best way your staff can learn is by making mistakes. You have to allow your staff to make a few mistakes.
I agree with you and think that making a few mistakes along the way is essential to growth, especially as creatives. What is the best life advice you’ve been told?
That’s a good one, I could use that myself. Once you slow down and process all that you have accomplished, how do you measure success?
I don’t know, I don’t think about it in terms of success or failure. If the day to day feels good, then that’s it. I set arbitrary goals for myself when I was younger and for whatever reason, when I met each one of them they felt hollow. I don’t look at it in those terms anymore. If they day feels good, that’s successful.
That’s a fresh perspective, I think it encourages one to be present. Finally, with that, you’re given one last meal…
*Without hesitation* A burger and fries.
Indulge in Alma yourself:
8300 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA