We had the good fortune of connecting with Zoe Messinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zoe, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risks, though dangerous, are delicious, like a bowl of pho in Vietnam—you don’t know what will happen (in my case I got a parasite). I live my life inviting risk: backpacking and parachuting out of planes in the wilds of New Zealand (not my natural habitat), moving to Europe to run a food truck at 21; first in Milan, then in Amsterdam (having only spoken Food French), walking into a restaurant for a line cook job in Los Angeles, with nothing but a knife bag and my passion to cook, standup comedy (the last thing I thought I’d do), and writing—these risks have taken me to a place I can honestly say feels right, maybe even comfortable and joyful.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work is an extension of this life I live on the edge, and my storytelling is where it all comes together. My most recent project, “Six Course Meal,” is a six-part series of restaurant vignettes. Each piece highlights an off-the-beaten-path place I’ve visited, be it Europe, Hong Kong, the U.S., or Scandinavia. The series is running on Peter Greenberg’s (travel editor, CBS) website Peter Greenberg Worldwide. Each vignette is paired with a recipe. My hope is to provide fantasy, escape, and an experience of the meal through my recipe. Though my path has not been easy, it is an adventure. I’ve put myself out on a limb, taken enormous risks, and sat with great discomfort. I’ve reached out to people that inspired me. I’ve always followed my intuition. I move from a place of love.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hike at Solstice Canyon, detour to Zuma Beach and move up Malibu to the Reel Inn for fish any way you want it. A taco truck tour: Tire Shop for Ensenada style with fresh corn tortillas, Mariscos Jalisco for fried shrimp, Taco Zone for mulitas and horchata. Ruen Pair for a turnip omelette and crock of tom kha, followed by a nap at Sunset Foot Spa. Tsubaki for sake and yakitori. Republique for bread, butter and pan drippings. Spago for true hospitality. Shunji for sushi. Petit Trois for Paris. Apple Pan for nostalgia. Olympic spa for a nude experience. An old film at The Beverly. Gjusta for “aperitivo.” Dinner at Mozza—za and everything else. Martinis and old Hollywood at Dan Tanna’s, though they may land you in a coma. A few nights in Ojai. If it’s Sunday, shopping and cooking: Larchmont Farmer’s Market and accoutrements from Cookbook. The Rosebowl for antiques and vintage tees. Gogosha for the funkiest glasses. OK for curated table stuff.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
After college, I ran a food truck in Milan and Amsterdam for two years with my then partner in crime. We traveled the world, eating, drinking, and learning. My first escargot, my first blood sausage, wine tasting our way through many different regions, and so much more. He encouraged me to embrace my connection with food and travel. When I moved to LA, my chef, Liz Johnson, taught me tough-kitchen-love, the art of cutting chives and dry-aging chicken—and the subtle beauty of death metal music. She mentored me in all things food and cooking, and is still an influence and friend today. Jack Grapes shaped my writing career. I owe my words to him, as well as a year of laughter and tears.