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Eating LA with the foremost foodie comedian

15 June, 2023
Foodie comedian Dan Ahdoot.

Photo: Robyn Von Swank

Obscure organs

Ahdoot is dressed for hiking. Now, if you’re an Angeleno living in the middle of Los Angeles, you’re familiar with Runyon Canyon, a hotspot for a see-and-be-seen crowd of influencers, actors and models and their dogs raising their heartrates through the Hollywood Hills. But Ahdoot prefers Nichols Canyon, which he can walk to from his house. “I like it because it’s quieter, and because it’s fame adjacent, just like me.”

During our hike, I ask Ahdoot about LA’s dining scene. “Coming from NY, I love that LA chefs can take more chances than NY chefs. Rents in NY are insane, so if you can’t make a profit QUICK, you’re done. Because of that, you get a lot of salmon, ribeye and Hamachi crudo on menus. LA is an amazing big city for chefs to take chances on because the rents aren’t as egregious. Also, Koreatown.”

On our trek back down the hill, we stop at one of Ahdoot’s favourite lunch hangs, Luv2Eat Thai, where the spicier it is, the better. Ahdoot’s palate is, in a word, advanced. I’ve never met anyone who likes eating offal more than him. He tells me, the more obscure the organ, the better.

Foodie comedian Dan Ahdoot.

Photo: author's own

We get on the topic of Ahdoot’s book, which is both a love letter to food, a call out for love and acceptance from his father, a therapy session on dealing with the death of his brother, and a travelogue of some of the best restaurants in the world. The book is obviously funny, Ahdoot is a standup after all, but what’s unexpected is how raw it is. Ahdoot uses humour to deflect pain, but in the book, it’s all out in the open (still funny), but pure and raw and exposed. The book beautifully captures food, as a co-star in the pivotal moments of Ahdoot’s life, which not only gives Bourdain vibes but the candour and joy of contemporary comedic memoirs like the ones by Bob Odenkirk and Judd Apatow.

Changing the subject, I ask Ahdoot about his act – something we’d be seeing later that night. I wondered how and when food started to infiltrate his standup sets.

“Honestly, I never talked about food in my act because I thought people didn’t care to hear about it. But I felt inauthentic keeping it out because it’s such a huge part of my life. So, slowly I started experimenting and realised that as long as I set it up right, everyone could be down with a joke about Giada, or Ina, or child abuse on Master Chef Junior.”

Pay more, drink less

After an afternoon of watching him record podcasts, take pitch meetings, work on joke material, and drink more coffee, we leave Ahdoot’s house to walk to Horses for a pre-comedy show dinner, a restaurant that’s currently embroiled in controversy whose food happens to be next level good. This is Ahdoot’s version of separating the art from the artist – not unlike the Spotted Pig. We sit at the bar and order Negronis along with veal sweetbreads (Ahdoot loves organs), the Horses Caesar, hand-cut steak tartare, and a pork chop Milanese.

Fully fuelled, we head to his ‘job’ where he’ll stand in front of a sold-out Laugh Factory crowd, slinging cutting observational humour, food jokes, self-deprecating jabs, and quick-thinking crowdwork that will make the most sarcastic heckler fall in love with him.

Foodie comedian Dan Ahdoot.

Photo: author's own

After a rousing show and a quick meet and greet, we head onto the streets of West Hollywood and walk back to his place. Ahdoot probably gets somewhere around 20,000 steps a day, which like he says, allows him to eat and drink whatever he wants without having to take Ozempic. When we arrive, he pulls out cigars and we light up on his back porch. He goes into his cellar and emerges with an ungodly expensive bottle of wine. I asked him his opinion on wine prices and whether it’s possible for good wine to also be cheap.

“I mean, it’s simple math. If you factor in the price of the bottle, the cork, the label, the graphic design, the shipping, the terroir, what you’re left with is something that costs two dollars for 750ml. Say it with me… HANGOVER CITY, USA!! If someone sold you a carton of milk for five cents, you’d be a little suspect, right? Like, what kind of Chernobyl cows did this milk come from? My advice? Get a more expensive bottle, and drink less. Or drink beer instead. You can get fantastically made beer for very cheap. You know why? Nobody cares about the terroir of the wheat!”

As we puff smoke rings and drink a very bold and silky Barolo, I ask Ahdoot what’s next. After the podcasts, the book, the standup gigs, the YouTube show, the TV shows, the movies, etc. What is next? He looks at me, blows a large cloud of smoke into the air and thinks about it for a moment.

“Honestly I’ve never loved and hated anything more than writing a book, so I’d love/hate to do it again.”

Dan Ahdoot also recommends…

Breakfast: Otus Thai

Lunch: Oui Melrose, Kabob by Faraj

Dinner: Nanban-kan, Marvin

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