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Interview: Scott Cooper

Executive chef Scott Cooper of Le Papillon talks about his favorite ingredients and ideal last meal

What inspires you as a chef?
I find inspiration in wide variety of things. It can be a run through the hills and noticing the wild vegetation, to a conversation with one of my staff members about a dish they once had, or just trying to come up with something to match a particular wine; but what I find most inspiring is the ingredients themselves. When I look at a particular ingredient, whether it is a great tomato, a perfect apricot or fresh local squid, is when it is easiest to be inspired.

What’s on the menu now that you’re particularly excited about?
We just put an American Wagyu tri-tip on the tasting menu that I really love. It is from a new producer in Missouri, and they are producing some great beef. We cook the tri-tip sous-vide for 28 hours and then sear it off and serve it with black garlic jus and fondant sweet potatoes. I was born in Santa Maria, so tri-tip is close to my heart.

What ingredient could you not live without?
Soy sauce.

Where do you eat on your days off?
Ramen Halu!

What would your last meal be?
It would start with sashimi and a little caviar, definitely including some uni and fluke. Then I would have some roast squab, braised pork belly with root vegetables and finish off with cheese and a little dessert. And since it is my last meal, I would have a vintage Krug Champagne and a 1990 Hermitage, Le Pavillon from Chapoutier.