Handsome Coffee co-owner and chef Tyler Wells’ approach to food is exactly the same as his approach to coffee. According to Wells, “you source really good ingredients and get out of the way. You represent them well”. Chef Wells’ menu for “this is not a pop-up” starting today Thursday, Feb 7th and running through Sunday, Feb 10th demonstrates his approach to food on its five course menu fixed pris menu featuring seasonal vegetables and exceptionally sourced meats.
With coffee, Handsome Coffee doesn’t have light or dark roasts; they have an appropriate roast that best represents each bean. They find a coffee and then understand its characteristics, and what its flavors are. So some coffees get roasted a little lighter, while others a little darker. There are a lot of nuances to highlight the ingredients. So like food “coffee is all about ingredients.”
With food, particularly with the grass fed Stemple Creek Ranch beef on the “this is not a pop up’s” menu, Wells is highlighting different cuts from the same cow by serving it two contrasting ways to bring out the best characteristics of these ingredients: wet aged braised short ribs for course three, and dry aged seared sirloin for course four. This premium product is sourced by former Lindy & Grundy butcher Alex Jermasek and current meat fabricator at Short Order. Jermasek with be assisting Wells in the kitchen at Square One Dining in Silver Lake where all of “this is not a pop-up” events scheduled thus far have and are taking place.
Chef Wells came to Los Angeles two years ago to help open the Intelligentsia in Pasadena where he also handled the food program. Prior to that position, Wells has been no stranger to kitchens; and, like many chefs he started early at sixteen years of age doing dishes. After completing the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute (now Cordon Bleu) in Pittsburgh, he worked in restaurants in both Denver and Austin in back and front of house positions. Though after taking a one day course on coffee, he was hooked, plus coffee better fit his lifestyle since as he states he is “an early bird rather than a night owl.”
Now he’s interested in possibly pursuing some other opportunities back in the kitchen and is thus taking advantage of “this is not a pop-up’s” format to test some food ideas. Depending on how it goes, he may do additional pop-ups or a concept that not only translates his approach toward coffee to food, but also translates his beliefs about hospitality to restaurant service.
For Chef Wells, hospitality means attentive service and accessibility. There are no fancy coffee names, and there are no molecular gastronomic cooking techniques. Rather this non-pretentious approach to both coffee and food is reflected in his simple straightforward desire to make people happy with both the food and drinks he sells. From a small town in West Virginia, with teachers for parents, Chef Wells is a people person, who unlike many Angelenos, doesn’t hide behind a mask.
Joining Wells, in addition to Jermasek in the kitchen, will be one of Tyler’s Handsome Coffee business partners, Michael Phillips brewing Handsome Coffee. Not only is Phillips the 2010 U.S. and World Barista Champion, but according to Handsome Coffee’s website, Phillips is also a “damned nice guy”.
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