Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Episode 3: Chef Jet Tila, The Charleston, Santa Monica CA

Chef Jet Tila's toothpaste commercial
Chef Jet Tila was the ideal candidate for a mystery ingredient that would have sent weaker chefs screaming and running for the door; his bigger than life persona convinced us that he was the right person to take on our biggest (literally) challenge to date in Kamikaze Kitchen's Episode 3. Chef Tila takes command of every situation he's in, and Episode 3 of Kamikaze Kitchen was no exception - armed with his knife-laden mini-coffin, Tila addressed the situation with skill, strength and science. Of course, Chef Tila is no stranger to challenges on a gargantuan scale - in addition to breaking world's records for the longest California roll at (at an impressive 442 feet) and a record for the largest stir fry (1,085 pounds in a single wok), he recently took the Guinness crown for a 6,658 pound fish stew at UMass Amherst (using the same pan as the one used for the stir fry).

Tila cut his teeth as a boy working in the renowned Bangkok Market and Royal Thai restaurant in L.A.'s Thai Town, further honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu and California Sushi Academy. In addition to appearing on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Chef Tila has also regularly appeared on NPR and the Food Network, as well as clashing blades with legendary chef Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef America. Tila has written regular columns for The Los Angeles Times and Las Vegas Weekly, is a frequent guest on KCRW's Good Food with Evan Kleiman and is the host of KLAA's radio program, The SoCal Restaurant Show.
Making Chef Tila an offer he can't re
Chef Tila's reputation led him to be chosen to helm Wazuzu at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore casino in Las Vegas, where he served as Executive Chef from 2008 through 2011, a stint that earned the restaurant a place on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List Tables” list. In 2011, he returned to Los Angeles to partner with Chef Alex Ageneau on the innovative BistroNominics fine dining pop-up. He recently became owner and Executive Chef of The Charleston in Santa Monica, California a night spot, drinking and dining establishment that exudes a classy 1920s vibe, which is where Kamikaze Kitchen caught up with him to do a little contract work and accept an offer he couldn't refuse. Chef Tila quickly dispatched of our victim and transformed an alligator's head into a variation of The Charleston's signature dish which he simply calls, "Gator and Waffles". If you feel so inclined to acquire an alligator's head from ExoticMeatMarket.net and attempt Chef Tila's creation, a recipe is provided here:

The assembled Gator and Waffles

Gator and Waffles

Chicken-fried Alligator
  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk
  • 2 qts. water
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cajun or crab boil spices
  • 1 gallon oil (grape seed or peanut)
  1. Using a sharp knife, pull as much meat as possible off the alligator's head in pieces about the size of two fingers; if you find a bullet, set it aside as a conversation piece
  2. Heat the water until boiling and then add the salt; when the salt is dissolved, remove from heat and refrigerate
  3. Add the pieces of alligator meat to the cold salt water, making sure the meat is completely submerged; refrigerate for 1 hour
  4. Pour off the brine and rinse the container, placing the meat back in afterwards
  5. Add enough buttermilk to cover the meat and refrigerate overnight
  6. Drain off and replace the buttermilk and refrigerate for at least another 2 hours
  7. Combine flour and your choice of spices in a large bowl
  8. Heat the fryer or large skillet to 350°
  9. Dredge the meat through the flour until evenly coated
  10. Add the meat to the oil and fry until brown color is achieved; remove and drain on a rack


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients and blend until evenly mixed.
  2. Coat hot waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Pour or ladle waffle batter evenly onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown

Assembling the Dish:

  1. Stack the alligator fingers upright on the waffle
  2. Garnish with chopped red onion and chiles, top with cilantro
  3. Serve with small cup of maple syrup with swirl of Sriracha
Follow The Charleston on Twitter at and on Facebook at /TheCharlestonLA
Follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at on Facebook at /chefjettila
and on the web at http://charlestonla.com/

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