Some of the best, healthiest decisions a person can make require a little blind faith. In 2015, just days after winning the James Beard Rising Star Chef award for her thoughtful work at Manresa restaurant in the Bay Area, Jessica Largey left her job as chef de cuisine and stepped away from the restaurant industry with no real plan in mind. She just knew she wanted to be happy, calm, and well—and that meant leaving behind the life and routine she'd led and loved for the previous six years.
Largey traveled, rested, connected with loved ones and promised herself that she'd come back to kitchen life if she found the right blend of partners, place, pace and concept—and only if she could do it on her terms. She approaches food the same way. The chef demurred on committing to a recipe ahead of time, arriving for her Extra Crispy shoot with a couple of bags of late-spring vegetables (radishes, spring peas, garlic scapes, and tender greens), flowering chives, eggs, and Cato Farms "Womanchego" cheese—all acquired on a stroll through a nearby farmers' market. But there's one thing that she didn't leave to chance: For her trip to New York, Largey packed a stash of Fuerte avocados from her parents' yard back in California. They're a taste of home that's been the start to her day for as long as she remembers, and she is very mindful not to fuss with them too much. Just a little bit of good-quality olive oil, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest are all she uses to enhance the just-picked crispness of her seasonal salad, which she mixes gently with her fingers to ensure even dressing.
It is—naturally—flawless, flavorful and a fresh, gorgeous start to the day. It's also a harbinger of the kind of seasonally-focused cuisine Largey plans on serving at her new restaurant Simone, which will open in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles later in 2016. Her team is currently working on the buildout of the raw space, and Largey herself is focusing on assembling a team that will be onboard with her mission of balance in all things: life, work, and even breakfast salad. Ideal candidates won't be afraid of a little risk—and they can't be afraid to get their hands dirty for the sake of deliciousness.