French fries are one of my favorite American foods. Yes, I know French Fries came from Europe, but I think America should take credit by making the ubiquitous query, “do you want fries with that?” a worldwide punchline. I like mine rather skinny and well seasoned. Very simple; no ketchup needed. So imagine my reaction when my husband took me to have chili fries for the first time? Oh the humanity! Why do you have to pour chili over lovely fries? It was fun to eat, but bit much to see. I’ve eaten brains before with not even a pause, but still, the sight of these textured brown chunks all over my favorite food was not pleasant. I rather eat them separately. This could have been the end of story with chili fries, until Stefan Richter, a runner up in the fifth season of Top Chef came into our lives.
It’s almost impossible to find a place where my husband and I equally love to eat. He likes hearty American food; I prefer seafood and Asian. So coming to Stefan’s L.A. Farm in Santa Monica is becoming our weekend ritual that pleasantly involves a cocktail or two and pigging out, because they serve examples of both our tastes. It’s easy to see that their dishes are prepared with thought and care. The last time we visited Stefan’s, chili fries had made the menu. If that had been my first time visiting L.A. Farm, I would’ve mused, “Really? You Served THAT?”
But having tasted 80% of their menu, I knew they wouldn’t just ladle chili over mediocre fries with abandon. I love that many non-fine dining restaurants started thought into their food in the last 5-7 years. Stefan’s shows that; fresh potatoes are perfectly fried and seasoned, with chili made just for this dish. Add melted cheese and a nice sour cream and truffle touch, then plate it above a cute doily, like grandma used to and serve. This dish screams “I give a damn and I hope you do too”. I finally understand the odd pairing that is Chili Fries.