Zach Pollack

Chef

Anyone who’s met Zach Pollack will tell you he’s obsessed with Italian tradition. And if you’ve eaten at one of his award-winning restaurants in Los Angeles, you know that with obsession comes perfection and a really delicious plate of pasta. That passion and expertise has earned him Los Angeles Magazine’s “Top 10 Best New Restaurants,” a spot on Forbes’ “30 Under 30,”  and a nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award. Yeah, Zach is not messing around when it comes to the perfect red sauce.

When the Los Angeles native touched down in Italy back in 2004, he knew he wanted to build something. It just so happens that his aspirations of being an architect were quickly sidelined when he fell in love with the Italian rituals of dining—the way they engage with their food and drink, the opinions a dish forms, the history that a cuisine evokes. It was then his taste buds told him he was going to become an Italian chef—a damn good one.

Why We Love Zach Pollack

Zach spent a large chunk of his 20s living in and working in Italy, and it has inspired him in so many ways. That, plus his boundless energy and creativity. Zach is the real deal.

“You know the meal you’re about to have in Italy is going to be satisfying not just to the palate but to the soul.”

“It was the food and wine that really captivated me, stopped me in my tracks. The way Italians engage with it, the way they talk about it, the opinions it informs, the history it evokes, and the time they dedicate to the ritual of eating and drinking.”

6 Questions with Zach Pollack

  1. You went to Italy to study to be an architect. Fast forward: You’re an acclaimed chef known for your Italian fare. How did that happen?

    The switch from architecture to cooking was more seamless than you might think. They’re both creative fields, but they also require a lot of left brain thinking, a lot of rules, and a lot of boundaries. I’ve found I need boundaries to be creative.

  2. You have two acclaimed restaurants in LA. Is one more Italian than the other?

    Alimento is more of a creative outlet where I can put whatever is inspiring me on the plate. Living in LA, it’s hard to not be inspired by the many cultures that call this city home, and that’s reflected on the menu. There’s usually an Italian bent to the dishes, but it’s not a strictly Italian restaurant. Cosa Buona’s mission is to be the best neighborhood pizzeria we can be, and serve it all up with easy-drinking wine and warm hospitality.

  3. You spent a chunk of your 20s cooking in Italy. Any fond memories?

    One time the chef’s sister—a woman in her 70s who was the restaurant’s dishwasher—insisted on serving me her food, cucina casalinga (meaning not the fancy stuff I was making at the restaurant). After a long shift, we biked back to her house, riding through a night haze thick with pig shit (that’s how you know you’re in the Po Valley). She proceeded to hand-roll half a dozen different pastas, each sauced and served differently. We washed it down with an unlabeled bottle of wine made from her neighbor’s vines and ended things with a crostata of plums from the little tree in her yard. It was one of those unicorn eating experiences you can spend a life chasing and never find. Then there was the time I chopped off a piece of my thumb and the guy who offered to drive me to the hospital totaled his Fiat after stopping for cigarettes, as I bled out in his car.

  4. What are three things that inspire you to create?

    Reading cookbooks, eating food cooked by someone else, and traveling.

  5. This isn’t your first trip to Sicily. What’s exciting about this time?

    It’s one of my favorite regions in Italy, but because of its size and location, it can be hard to work it into a trip to the mainland. As a result, I haven’t been there in more than 10 years. And while I love the entire island, the southeastern part where this trip is focused holds a special place in my heart, both because it’s where I worked, and because it’s simply the best (but don’t tell a Palermitano that!).

  6. What is your most treasured possession?

    In the kitchen, probably my Takeda knife collection. They’re the best knives I’ve ever used—and I’ve used a few. Outside the kitchen, my Tonal exercise machine. I wish that were a sponsorship, but it isn’t, sadly.

Sicily & Naples with Zach Pollack

One Departure Only | September 12 - 18, 2022

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