On UCLA’s campus, within the Luskin Conference Center, there is a hidden gem of an upscale restaurant with California-fresh ingredients and a splash of Mediterranean flavor: Plateia.
Due to the pandemic, Plateia is currently only open for takeout and outdoor dining. A new cookbook inspired by the on-campus restaurant and authored by two top UCLA chefs is offering another option for those near and far to taste Plateia through the printed page.
Photo: The name Plateia is Greek for meeting place or town square. “The food, ambience and people really make this great restaurant run,” says Joey Martin, UCLA’s senior executive chef. The cookbook offers the at-home version of that ambience.
“Cooking together can be especially comforting in these times… the process of preparing meals can be calming and a sincere act of love for those around us,” says Executive Chef Jason Tingley, who along with Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Sung and writer Rebecca Kendall, co-authored the Plateia cookbook.
At a time when tech is ruling our lives like never before, the authors hope to share something weighty (240 pages) and tactile with the printed cookbook, which shares the restaurant’s most popular recipes, but also tells the story of a unique campus community.
There are recipes here for all day parts and more, with nice detours into composed salads (nicoise, baby kale and little gem lettuce); specialty pizzas and a very cool “Between Bread” chapter on sandwiches, which includes avocado chicken, Moroccan lamb, Ottoman chicken and “The Burger.” That burger is one of Plateias most popular items ever, California-ized with avocado-basil aioli and jammy preserved tomatoes.
Main courses are fancier fare, such as short rib gremolata, whole branzino, brick-pressed chicken and honey-spiced duck. There are mocktail and cocktail recipes, too, and desserts from butternut squash mousse to baklava and California fruit tart.
The cookbook won the 2020 Global Innovation Award from the International Association of Conference Centers, of which the Luskin Conference Center is a member, for creativity, innovation and impact.
Overall, this project shows how UCLA Housing & Hospitality is “redefining the idea of accessible world-class cuisine—opening a whole host of new conversations around food and creating an overall heightened sense of excitement for the work we do here,” says Al Ferrone, senior director of food and beverage for Housing & Hospitality.