For Gerard Jiron and Izzy Guetta, the purchasing team at New School of Cooking, it’s all about finding the best quality ingredients they can lay their hands on. And it’s a never-ending quest.
Located in Culver City, New School of Cooking is a boutique cooking school that offers professional degree programs and recreational classes. It also has a thriving cafe, which features a menu that is completely created in house and made from scratch. Of course, the backbone is always the ingredients.
Jiron and Guetta, are better known around the school as the “Dynamic Duo”. They are the Mulder and Scully of ingredients – detectives on a quest to know more, find better sources and sleuth for the freshest locally sourced ingredients on a daily basis. Finding notoriously elusive Japanese black garlic, passion fruit at its perfect peak, ostrich eggs for a special demonstration or specially sourced Aleppo pepper – it’s all part of a day’s work.
“We have access to the best of everything here in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, and people expect it,” said Jiron, who talks with farmers, purveyors and producers daily, constantly on the hunt for the next best thing.
“If it doesn’t meet our standards, it goes back,” said Guetta, juggling a clipboard and a box of fresh butter lettuce.
Both have tremendous palettes, with a keen understanding of what a specific vegetable tastes like fresh from the soil, or what it tastes like if it has been perishing in a walk-in for too long. They also understand the care and thoughtfulness necessary when storing the food.
“It’s a skill that you learn by simply tasting,” said Jiron. “And you get better when you regularly taste the best.”