BEHIND THE STOVE
10 Dishes With Chef Lincoln Carson
The chef and owner of L.A.’s Bon Temps restaurant, tackles our speed round of questions.
After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Whatever I can get my hands on, but a couple of nights ago, it was grilled cheese. I made it with comté, the pain au levain we make at Bon Temps and griddled it with olive oil and salt so it was nice and crusty.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “I’m pretty much up for anything except sea cucumber. I just don’t like the texture.”
All-time favorite spice.“If I had to single out one it would be black pepper. It’s got so much nuance when you get amazing-quality peppercorns: heat, depth, darkness, back notes. It can play a supporting role or be the star of the show. I also love ras el hanout, which can be used in both sweet and savory applications; it makes great ice cream. I love the blend from Terra Spice.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “I like a quiet kitchen, but at home, my musical tastes are pretty eclectic: from ’80s indie alternative to AC/DC.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “Only out of desperation. I was a latchkey kid, so when I was hungry, I cooked. I made a great tuna melt.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “I’ve got so many shelves of cookbooks. For me, cookbooks are more about getting into someone else’s head and seeing things through a different filter, rather than using them literally. Alain Ducasse’s series of professional encyclopedias, Grand Livre de Cuisine, is a go-to, particularly the volume on desserts and pastries co-written by Frédéric Robert.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Absolutely. When I have a chance, I love to do it. I always have a great dining experience at Republique, and Benno was the highlight of my recent trip to New York.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “There are so many. I would say Jacques Pépin would be high on the list. He comes off as a great balance of masterful and classic technique and being a good person.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “I’m the worst person to ask, because I almost never watch cooking shows!”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My knife roll. I’m really OCD about keeping sharp knives. I also carry spatulas that were probably designed for a canvas, but that I use for plating, and a particular set of spoons for plating and quenelles—the Lady Hamilton spoon from the 1930s, first championed by my dear friend the late chef Chris L’Hommedieu.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Lincoln Carson is the chef and owner of L.A.’s Bon Temps restaurant in the city’s Arts District.