If you thought it was hard to get into a Wolvesmouth dinner before, it just got a lot harder. After scribing successful profiles of local food pros such as Jonathan Gold and Baja’s Javier Plascencia, the New Yorker’s Dana Goodyear once again helps to bolster L.A.’s international culinary cred with her latest subject: our own Chef of the Year winner Craig Thornton.
In the 6,000-word piece entitled “Toques from Underground,” Goodyear goes behind the scenes of Thornton’s secret supper club, Wolvesmouth, providing an in-depth look into the unlikely operation and the motley crew that helps Thornton put the whole thing together. The article traces the rise of the underground dinner trend back to Michael Hebb and Naomi Pomeroy’s Family Supper, which dominated the Portland dining scene in the early ‘00s. But more striking than its descriptions of Thornton’s asceticism (not eating for days on end) and anti-conformist attitude (intentionally serving ugly plates to take emphasis off looks) is the piece’s exploration of Thornton’s troubled childhood, one surrounded by poverty and at the mercy of parents struggling with drug addiction. The narrative culminates with the 200-person free Wolvesmouth dinner that took place at the vacant Gonpachi space back in August, when a Dos Equis event was cancelled at the last minute.
Among the other Angelenos who score coveted New Yorker ink are Nguyen and Thi Tran of Starry Kitchen, Miles Thompson of the Vagrancy Project, and even former Los Angeles magazine intern and current Squid Ink blogger Garrett Snyder. One newsy bit: Thornton has been hinting at moving the Wolvesmouth experience to a more conventional restaurant space for nearly a year, and here it seems he has his eye on a Korean BBQ spot in Little Tokyo.
The piece as a whole winds up painting Thornton as a supernaturally talented, quasi-monastic, obsessively perfectionist badass of the kitchen. Having been to a dinner and spent some time with the guy, I can’t say I disagree.
Read the whole thing here. Or, you know, in print. It’s the New Yorker after all.