David Pratt's interview took place on his day off — after a school drop-off, but before spending the morning with his wife. Dedicated to his family, business and giving back to the community, he owns and operates Brick with a background that includes roles in chef instruction and as general manager.
You have a snout-to-tail philosophy at Brick. Can you go over all the tasty things you use the pigs for — especially the porchetta!
Hind legs: porchetta
Front legs: braised for stuffed pasta
Belly: confit for carbonara
Head, trotters and bones: sugo
Loin: pork chops
Most undervalued ingredient:
Local farm produce. Nothing compares to vine-ripened food.
Tell us where you get your produce.
South Coast Farms primarily. Also Smith Farms and VR Green Farms for certain ingredients. Farmers' markets Wednesday in LA and Saturday in Dana Point. And more farmers directly, depending on the season and quality of product.
What is your beverage of choice?
Fresh juice from Organic Tree in Dana Point.
Let's talk about that Valoriani oven! How quickly does it bake a pizza?
It's from Tuscany. At 800 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes two to three minutes.
What do you recommend for first-timers?
The sausage pizza. It has our great crudo pizza sauce made from Carmelina roma tomatoes, roasted farm fennel, Gioia mozzarella and house-made sausage.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Try making pasta by hand. It's very easy, and there is no comparison to a dry, store-bought product.
Tell us about Mirabeau. When was it in operation? Where was it located? And what did you learn from being both chef and co-owner?
It was a French bistro in Monarch Beach from 2003 to 2006. Restaurants aren't about the chef or owner. They are about the team providing the guests what they demand.
What's the difference between being a general manager and an owner of a restaurant?
An active owner, such as myself, is involved in everything. A general manager only can have as much authority as the owner allows. The key for the guest is to have one person, regardless of their title — chef, GM, owner — be the face of the restaurant.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
To change my pizza-dough recipe to meet his taste preferences. No, I did not.
You're making breakfast; what are you having?
As much coffee as I can drink before work begins.
Favorite places to eat:
Flour + water in San Francisco. Anywhere in Italy.
Where was your most recent meal?
I don't get a lot of time off. When I do, I normally cook at home for my family.
What was the inspiration for stuffing your Medjool dates with sausage?
It started off as a garnish for a dish, then an hors d'oeuvre, and finally as an appetizer. Sweet and salty with fat from the sausage.
Alice Waters introduced [me to] foraging and local farm movement. Jacques Pepin [is a] master technician. Mario Batalli — love the rustic Italian cuisine.
Most popular items on the menu:
Caesar salad, carne pizza and orecchiette pasta.
Favorite meal growing up:
Fondue. A special treat served on my siblings' and my birthdays.
Your earliest food memory:
Eating fresh eggs that we would gather each morning from our chickens.