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An Interview with L.A. Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal and Son of a Gun

By mahir | May 23, 2011

Photo courtesy of Animal Restaurant

I recently caught up with the talented chef duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Owners of Animal Restaurant in LA and their new restaurant Son of a Gun. Chefs Jon and Vinny bring an original perspective to their cooking which combines great talent with classic favorites. 

Praised for their meat-centric cooking inside a sign-less, sparsely decorated restaurant, their cooking is adventurous, delicious, and yet familiar. Shook and Dotolo have opened their second restaurant, Son of a Gun, which features seafood and decor reminiscent of a seaside summer shack.

I’ve had many a great dinner at Animal in LA, and I hope to host these two talent chefs soon at Red Rooster.

Can you share 5 of your favorite ingredients to cook with?

Jon: Salt, butter, lemon, olive oil, and mustard
Vinny: foie gras, sea urchin, butter, anything pork, tomatos.

Where are your top 5 spots in LA?

Jon: Mozza, Buchon, Red Medicine, L’oteria in the farmers market, and Ruen Par
Vinny: Red Medicine, Din Tai Fung, Bouchon, El Cochinito, Langer’s, Siete Mares.

Has opening Son of a Gun changed the cooking at Animal?

Jon: It hasn’t changed the cooking style, but we try our hardest to avoid overlap. You will never get the same dishes at either place.
Vinny: I don’t think it has at all, if anything it has made us more focused on what we do at Animal and actually differentiating them.

In one sentence, how would you compare and contrast Animal and Son of a Gun?

Jon: They are like brother and sister.
Vinny: The food and the decor speak true to the differences between the two restaurants. At the core, the restaurants are run quite similarly, but to compare them is to acknowledge their differences.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

Jon: There is no way I could say exactly what the best thing is, but I can say that some of my favorite things I am eaten are super fresh, weather from the earth, from a tree or freshly killed.
Vinny: Probably have to say the white bean course at Alinea.

What’s next for you?

Jon: Hopefully continued success from both Animal and Son of a Gun and continue to learn.
Vinny: A baby.

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