Miles Thompson Of Allumette In Echo Park, CA

Miles Thompson cooks without borders at Echo Park's Allumette

If you ever find yourself in a trivia duel, you want Miles Thompson on your team. Trust us.

The 25-year-old chef at Allumette has a fascinating curriculum vitae: He starred in a Palme D'Or-winning film when he was 17, studied classical guitar in college, and worked under Nobu Matsuhisa and Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook. And as his fellow chefs will tell you, his mind functions as a Rolodex of cross-culinary knowledge.

Garganelli with rabbit | Matsutake mushroom cake

Earlier this year, Thompson turned his roving pop-up restaurant into Allumette, a quaint dinner space that has served as a launching pad for his cerebral style of modern cuisine. Serving it in Echo Park, a neighborhood that's transformed considerably in the past few years, has been no easy feat.

"A few years ago there were gang houses for MS-13 up the street," says Thompson. "Now, we're offering tasting menus. It's pretty crazy." 

Crazy would be the word to describe his arthouse-looking dish of crumbled Matsutake mushroom cake, toasted nori paste and golden trout roe–but for Thompson there is a method behind the madness.  

Pointing to his pantry, Thompson explains, "There are at least eight kinds of vinegar on that shelf, but every one brings out a different flavor in an ingredient. In music, there are overtones between different frequencies. Food is the same way."

Salmon with lemon and tapioca | Sunchoke and octopus with nori

In the kitchen, Thompson is decidedly Zen-like. "I used to always be stressed when I was cooking," he says, "but when you're relaxed, creativity comes easier and people work better."

For one dish, Thompson cooks tapioca pearls in a dense, creamy shellfish stock, then tops it with fried broccoli, lemon and seared branzino. The result appears modernistic, but the taste is of soulful seafood chowder.

The ultimate goal at Allumette: broaden a diner's horizon without them even knowing it.