When the last table clears, the cooks head out—to decompress, to eat, to get drunk. Photographer Andrea Bricco followed some of L.A.’s top chefs through one evening’s post-shift adventures in West Hollywood, among them a snack at the Pikey, a private soiree at Gorge, and a chow-down at In-N-Out. Acabar’s Octavio Becerra, the veteran of the bunch, explains why anything is possible once the kitchen is closed—except sleep.
As a chef, your day starts at 10 a.m. and you go nonstop until 1 a.m. At that point you’ve been pumped up on adrenaline for 15 hours straight, and that’s not something you can just shut off. So inevitably the nightly routine becomes about winding down. You really have only an hour before the bars close to get as much booze into you as possible, so between 1 and 4 a.m. you drink hard and fast, talk about service, talk about food, talk shit about each other, and come together in a fellowship of sorts. You don’t realize that it’s something special when you’re going through it, but the camaraderie formed at night is a big part of what brings a crew, a brigade, and a kitchen together. I’m still close with the people I grew up cooking with 30 years ago. Then if you’re lucky, you go home to get four hours of sleep and do it all over again.