In the Kitchen With Chef Jeremy: New Mixx Restaurant Location Takes Creative License with Already Creative Menu

Saturday, December 30, 2017 | 2:34 pm

Generally, feature reviews for restaurants follow a pretty set formula: Arrangements are made with management, we show up at a certain time, and we’re greeted by the host. We select items from a standard menu from a friendly waiter who knows who we are, and who then brings us a pristine version of the restaurant’s main attraction.

As we sat patiently at our table at The Mixx, awaiting Chef Jeremy Zimmerman, who was apparently running an errand, owner Ed Minassian finally strolled over and said, “He’s in the kitchen. Why don’t you go talk to him there?”

Zimmerman was holding court with a pair of Tomahawk Duroc Pork chops, briskly grilling on the range, as we pushed through the swinging doors,. It was hard to say which would be more formidable, the massive, Shaquille-sized chops, or the similarly named US Army missile defense system. Neither would take any prisoners.

Working the busy kitchen with just one assistant—his sous chef Nick—Zimmerman brings a long and varied history to Minassian’s new spot. He began his career early, working at a neighborhood restaurant in Kansas City near his boyhood home. It was there that he learned to love food and cooking.

He expanded his repertoire working with expert chefs like Michael Smith and Debbie Gold at the five-star The American Restaurant. The tattooed chef (That’s a can of Spaghetti-o’s on his right arm) also learned from guest chefs like the late Julia Childs, Jean Louis Palladin, Patrick Clark, Charlie Trotter, and Lidia Bastianich.

After meeting his mentor Chef Guillaume Burlion at The Wild Boar Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, Jeremy developed his own passion for French cuisine, training for 14 years training under Guillaume Burlion and eventually cooking award-winning meals for the James Beard House and President Bill Clinton.

Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to become the sous chef at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, eventually becoming executive chef. It was there that Minassian nabbed him.

I was interviewing someone else for the position,” said Minassian. “But that guy tried to tell me what to do. Meanwhile, I liked everything that Jeremy was throwing into the conversation.

Zimmerman hands us steaming spoonfuls of his Bolognaise sauce as we chat. Next up is a plate of cast-iron seared Shishito peppers, served with bacon popcorn, cotija, and lemon preserve dressing, which we devour right off the serving counter—they’refun, flavorful, yet spicy enough to make you just a little teary. And we haven’t left the kitchen yet.

“I could never work in a chain place,” said Zimmerman, deftly preparing a steak tartare. “Neither of us would be happy in that situation,” he said.

It’s that creative temperament that attracted Minassian to Zimmerman, who created and supervises the restaurant’s menu, which also manages to change a little every few days, should Zimmerman get a whim for an item.

But as we returned to our table, Zimmerman arrived again with two hot bowls of his Boston clam chowder, dotted with shots of Siracha. It’s a delicious LA-Boston street fight. The combination reflects his past and his future, leaving neither side unrepresented.
The chowder is followed by his Scottish Smoked Salmon rillettes, deviled eggs filled with an elegant though “working-class” salmon spread.

“Good chefs know how to use everything,” says Zimmerman.

Finally, Zimmerman appears with his signature Kansas City-style pork back ribs, dry-rubbed, and smoked over applewood and coffee beans. The succulent and slightly spicy meat leaps off the bone, and I would dare say, they are some of the finest ribs I’ve eaten anywhere. They alone are worth the visit.

The Mixx could be a seriously important addition to Pasadena’s thriving restaurant, even if you didn’t count Zimmerman’s one-of-a-kind USDA Prime Beef Tartare, which one happy customer, who scouted the restaurant for days, and had sampled tartare “all over,” left convinced that she had found tartare equal to any of the previous restaurants she’d visited.

Fresh, hot banana bread with a crunchy crust and a ring of powdered sugar and sliced strawberries completed the evening, as we watched the evening’s Thursday night salsa dancers swing their hips long past our visit.

Take Zimmerman’s rock and roll cooking attitude with a French/American cuisine sensibility, a roomy, hip space with a stage for dancing and entertainment, and combine that with an owner willing to let creativity reign in the kitchen, and you could have a serious winner in the Mixx.

The Mixx is at 443 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena 91101. (626) 500-0021.

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