Los Angeles has been home to Armenian cuisine for decades, with dishes such as kebab, lahmadjoon, and shawarma being popular favorites. However, in recent years, a new generation of Armenian chefs and restaurateurs has emerged, eager to put their own spin on traditional dishes and introduce new flavors and techniques.
Some of the rising Armenian chefs making a mark on L.A.’s food scene include Ara Zada, chef and co-author of “Lavash,” a cookbook that explores the flatbread that’s integral to Armenian cuisine. Zada and comedian Jack Assadourian Jr. went viral earlier this year for their unique Armenian-Mexican fusion dishes, including a “lahmarito,” or burrito with rounds of lahmajune, spiced basturma meat, hummus, and traditional fillings of carne asada, Mexican rice, pico de gallo, and salsa, all wrapped in lavash.
Another notable chef is Marianna V. Zavala, who serves up traditional Armenian dishes at her restaurant, Maro Wood Grill, using wood-fired cooking techniques and local, organic ingredients. Meanwhile, chef Sevan Abdessian of Ospi Restaurant serves modern Armenian cuisine with influences from Italy and France.
These chefs and others like them are transforming Armenian immigrant cuisine in Los Angeles, drawing influence from California’s seasonality, local food cultures, and more, while preserving their community’s culinary heritage.