February · MArch 2017
‘Top Chef’ alum Brooke Williamson keeps it fresh with Da Kikokiko So Fly Kids dance classes lift even the tiniest of creative spirits Serenity now! Beachy and organic colors set the tone for sanctuary
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Compass is a licensed real estate broker (01991628) in the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdraw without notice. To read the Compass main office call 310.230.5478
Vol. 1 | No. 6
EDITOR’S NOTE 6 The Crow of the Fire Rooster COMMUNITY 10 Mystery Pop-Up @ Concert Park 13 Preview Tour @ Wallis Annenberg PetSpace 14 Lunar New Year Celebration @ Central Park
ICYMI 17 Mark Wahlberg, Alanis Morissette and Anthony Michael Hall PEOPLE 18 Tanya Fishburn and Erica Brookhart inspire petite ballerinas 24 Word on the Street: What locals like most about Playa Vista HOME 26 Marisa Avallon designs for serenity with organic, beachy colors
News 32 LMU plans to open a Playa Vista satellite campus at The Brickyard HEALTH 35 Yoga instructor Aren Wolf on learning from success and failure
FOOD 36 ‘Top Chef’ alum Brooke Williamson crafts the perfect poke bowl 41 Playa Vista Happy Hour Directory: The tastiest deals in town Farmers MArket 44 What’s in season and some buzzworthy local honey
SHOPPING 48 Channel your inner ‘Spiritual Gangster’ while you tow your tot EVENTS 50 Welcome spring at Concert Park and get pumped for ‘Psychopomp’
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44 ON THE COVER: Chef Brooke Williamson prepares a yellowfin tuna poke bowl at Da Kikokiko. Photo by Erica Allen. Design by Michael Kraxenberger.
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Edito r ’ s N ot e
The Crow of the Fire Rooster
he sounds of beating drums, clashing cymbals and thundering gongs echoed across Playa Vista as a troupe of lion dancers in bold crimson-and-gold costumes used a mix of martial arts and dance to imitate the movements of lions. The occasion: Lunar New Year. Local residents and employees came out to the Central Park Bandshell on Jan. 28 and to Concert Park on Feb. 2 to watch the traditional lion dance that first began in China in the third century. For Playa Vistans, celebrating Lunar New Year was not only a way to deepen their connections with coworkers, family and neighbors, but also a way to celebrate the beautiful diversity in our community. This is the year of the Fire Rooster, and the Chinese zodiac says that people born under this sign are trustworthy, punctual and have a good work ethic — qualities perfect for fitting into this progressive tech hub. In this issue of Playa Vista Direct, hard-working “Top Chef ” alum Brooke Williamson personally introduces us to her new restaurant, Da Kikokiko, a cozy Hawaiian poke café that opened at Runway in October. Williamson and her self-proclaimed “Spam fanatic” husband Nick Roberts were eager to try their hand at bringing a taste of traditional Pacific island culture to curious palates in Playa Vista. Interior designer Marisa Avallon and her husband Greg opened up their Woodson home to share the “beachy, organic” design choices that fit their active lifestyle amidst the peacefulness of Playa Vista. Tanya Fishburn and Erica Brookhart are the founders of So Fly Kids, a new dance studio at Runway. Together they are fostering the creative spirit of tiny dancers by encouraging laughter and imagination while teaching precise ballet moves with funny French names, inspiring dozens of happy toes daily. As you read this issue of Playa Vista Direct, I hope you take time to recognize the diversity and creative fire in your own life as you begin this Year of the Fire Rooster. Shanee Edwards Managing Editor · email@example.com
6 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
Managing Editor Shanee Edwards Art Director & Creative Concept Michael Kraxenberger Contributing Writers Christina Campodonico Stephanie Case · Richard Foss Jessica Koslow · Robyn Paris Andy Vasoyan · Kelby Vera Gary Walker ·Tiffany Walton Contributing Photographers Erica Allen · Inae Bloom Courtnay Robbins Bragagnolo Maria Martin · Shilah Montiel Ted Soqui Graphic Designer Kate Doll Account Executives Renee Baldwin Kay Christy David Maury Tina Marie Smith Advertising Director Alan Rock Senior Editor Joe Piasecki Publisher David Comden
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c omm u nit y Photos by Shilah Montiel
Mystery Pop-Up @ Concert Park Danielle and Patrick Wu were curious when they saw a post on Facebook that there would be a special pop-up event on Jan. 28 in Concert Park. Considering the Lunar New Year was fast approaching, they suspected the event would be a celebration of it. “We thought we’d come out because my husband’s family is from China and very traditional,” Danielle said. Their hunch was correct. The highlight of the event was The Immortals troupe of lion dancers, who donned colorful costumes to entertain the crowd in a display of Kung Fu-inspired dancing — a centuries-old Chinese cultural tradition. As she wrangled her little boy, local Sarah Sang said she wanted to attend because “it’s a day to get together and celebrate new beginnings” — and a fun time for kids who get red envelopes stuffed with cash. — Shanee Edwards 10 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
1 The Immortals lion dance troupe engage in a centuries-old traditional Chinese dance. 2 Elisabeth Maiden poses inside the lion’s head with daughter Elleanor. 3 Little Lena Hardy celebrates by wearing a cheongsam, a stylish dress that came into fashion in China in the 1920s. 4 Local kids watch in amazement and a little bit of terror as the lion cavorts around them.
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c omm u nit y Photos by Ted Soqui
Work-in-Progress Tour @ Wallis Annenberg PetSpace Local animal welfare officials and members of the media gathered in December for a special sneak peek inside the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, currently under construction in The Collective at Playa Vista. Take it from us: This is shaping up to be a place unlike any other, with dynamic interior spaces that support the nonprofit center’s multifaceted mission to foster the human-animal bond. People-pet play areas introduce families to adoptable rescue dogs and cats, interactive exhibits teach visitors on the basics of animal care, and versatile gathering spaces can accommodate community and educational events both large and small. And, just for fun, there’s going to be a human hamster wheel. The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is also partnering with Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Urban Resilience and other organizations to advance the growing academic field of Human-Animal Studies, which explores how people relate to animals. — Joe Piasecki
1 A miniature model of the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace entryway includes a giant cat pawing at a human hamster wheel. 2 A larger-than-life digital tablet tells an interactive story about a dog that needs a forever home. 3 Visitors will be able to enter the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace through an interior courtyard in The Collective, a multi-building creative campus on West Bluff Creek Drive. 4 Guests gather in an unfinished groundfloor room to get the scoop on the center’s mission before starting the tour.
Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 13
c omm u nit y
Lunar New Year Celebration @ Central Park Traditional Chinese dance and contemporary food truck treats helped officially ring in the Year of the Rooster with a spirited celebration on Feb. 2 at Playa Vista’s Central Park. A thunderous banging of drums announced the start of festivities as The Immortals lion dance troupe, back from their surprise pop-up engagement a few days earlier in Concert Park, took to the Central Park Band Shell. Two pairs of performers tucked themselves underneath lion costumes adorned with glittering sequins and plush fur, bringing the two elongated creatures to life as they gracefully veered toward and away from each other gracefully. For the grand finale, the dancers jumped from the stage and weaved between onlookers before standing on each other’s shoulders and rolling out silk flags wishing all a Happy New Year in both English and Chinese. — Kelby Vera 14 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
1 A lion dancer sheds her costume to perform martial arts for an enraptured audience. 2 The lion takes a break from its vigorous, stylized dance. 3 Guests enjoy snacks from the Steamy Bun Truck. 4 Community members get up close and personal with the lion. 5 Steven Pho sips a Taiwanese beverage provided by Boba Tea & Me.
I CY M I
In Case You
Missed It On Jan. 11, Cinemark Playa Vista hosted a screening of “Patriots Day” that included a live broadcast of a Q&A with Mark Wahlberg and real-life heroes with Boston P.D.
Facebook has hired MTV Networks exec Mina Lefevre to lead its original content development efforts. She will work out of the social network’s Playa Vista office.
Anthony Michael Hall is being sued by a Playa Vista neighbor who accuses the ‘80s Brat Pack star of assault. Hall has pleaded not guilty to related criminal charges.
On Jan. 25, LaSalle Investment Management announced the purchase of 12901 W. Jefferson Blvd. (39,600 square feet) for $45 million and 5340 Alla Road (118,330 square feet) for $95 million.
Without a trace of irony, former music industry business manager Jonathan Todd Schwartz of Playa Vista pleaded guilty to embezzling $4.8 million from Alanis Morissette.
LAUSD will launch a new middle school in Westchester so that kids who age out of Playa Vista Elementary can continue to study a science and tech curriculum.
“Playa Vista is where everybody’s going once they acquire scale.” — Mark Suster, general partner of the venture capital firm Upfront Ventures As told to Brandon Reynolds in “What Sets L.A.’s Digital Domain Apart,” the cover story of the February issue of Los Angeles Magazine. Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 17
Three petite dancers practice their petit allegro at So Fly Kids studio in Runway.
P e opl e
Prima Ballerinas So Fly Kids dance classes mix fun and discipline to lift even the tiniest of creative spirits Story By Stephanie Case | Photos by Maria Martin
midst a flurry of tiny ballerinas, 4-year-old Eloise Osorio cavorts and twirls, a smile stretched across her face. “This is her space to be herself,” says her mom, Ivette Osorio. “She has two brothers at home, so I love that she’s really blossoming into her own person here.” So Fly Kids Academy of Dance, one of the latest additions to Runway at Playa Vista, is a catalyst for creative spirit. In the freestyle portion of the studio’s Tuesday ballet-jazz-tap class, Eloise’s classmates each don their own style — for one, a princess dress; for another, rainbow butterfly wings — and invent their own routines on the spot. Despite the unmistakable whimsy in the air, however, these kids mean business. “This isn’t just dress up. Parents come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe my 3-year-old knows what an échappé is,’” says Tanya Fishburn, owner and CEO of So Fly Kids. Fishburn, a Playa Vista mother of two, is a former professional dancer and decades-long student of the arts, dating back to her days taking youth ballet classes in her Hawaii hometown. “When I think of my teachers back then, they were pretty hardcore,” she says. “My classes weren’t as fun as ours are.” At So Fly Kids, Fishburn tempers the typical rigidity of dance instruction with opportunities for laughter and imagination. She models classes off of the
Dance instructor Ashley Bosma helps the ballerinas connect with their inner butterflies.
internationally renowned Royal Dance Academy syllabus, teaching students their changements from their arabesques, but injects her own style. For foot exercises in her youngest classes, “instead of the traditional ‘flex, arch, point,’ I’ll call out ‘happy toes, sad toes,’” she says, alternating between an exuberant and gloomy inflection. When Erica Brookhart, Fishburn’s co-founder, leads their stretch routines, instructing each child to contort into the butterfly pose, she’ll ask, “Where is your butterfly flying?” “They’ll shout out, ‘It’s purple, and it’s flying to Germany,’” she laughs. “They get so excited.”
The balance between fun and discipline is delicate, but when it strikes the right medium it can foster a lifelong passion for dance. “I still remember my first ballet shoes [at age 2],” says Brookhart. “I wanted to sleep in them, and I never took them off. So when we see the kids come in here and they’re buying their first pair, I know how they feel.” As a just-finished class spills into the lobby, 10-year-old Ava McNeely, ballet shoes still proudly on her feet, takes me through her positions — ”bras bas, then first, second, third, fourth and fifth” (Continued on page 20) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 19
P e opl e
(Continued from page 19)
— gracefully lifting her arms into the air. “I love knowing all the moves,” she gushes. “I catch [Eloise] practicing her moves all the time,” says Osorio. “I have so many videos on my phone where we’re hanging out and she bursts into a routine. Once, we were shopping during the Christmas season, and she was just twirling around Nordstrom.” For children who don’t catch the ballet bug, So Fly Kids offers a slew of other classes: jazz, hula, breakdancing, musical theater. Once, years ago, Brookhart rushed in to teach a dance class with her hair wet, smelling of chlorine. When Fishburn realized she was a children’s swimming instructor on the side, she quickly added the sport to the So Fly Kids lineup. “If you’re good with kids, and they trust you, and you have a connection, you can teach them anything,” Fishburn says.
Ashley Bosma adjusts a student’s foot to achieve the perfect passé.
Next, So Fly Kids is hoping to debut adult classes, since the benefits of movement and expression transcend age. “Dance enhances everything you do in life … even the confidence of carrying myself into a meeting, or meeting new people,” says Fishburn. She needed that confidence when, after eight years of operating
So Fly Kids out of the Centerpointe Club and in schools across the Westside, she decided to take on the arduous process of securing her very first brick-andmortar studio. “For two years, she persevered like no one I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” (Continued on page 22)
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So Fly Kids co-founders Erica Brookhart and Tanya Fishburn in their brand new dance studio.
P e opl e
(Continued from page 20)
laboring over pitches and setting up meetings, says Brookhart. “She was so sure: ‘This is going to happen.’” Fishburn finally locked down her piece of real estate — a studio nestled in between Runway’s Panini Cafe and Varnish Lab — this January. With the doors finally open, she’s cemented a space in Playa Vista where the next generation of confident artists can find their footing, step by step. So Fly Kids is between Panini Café and Varnish Lab on Town Center Drive. Call (310) 341-4475 or visit soflykids. com for more information.
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P e opl e
Word on the Street What do you like most about Playa Vista?
Johnny Shane A musician just back from the U.K., Johnny likes the convenience of living in Playa Vista. “Everything you could possibly need is right here,” he says.
Eve Ettinger Local dog mom Eve likes the sense of safety Playa Vista offers. “It feels like a good community, there are a lot of animals, so it’s dog friendly. It’s nice that everyone walks around.”
24 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
Taylor Novoa and Kayla Davies Taylor, a PV local, likes “being able to wake up and walk to Whole Foods.” BFF Kayla adds: “I like how clean and beautiful and new it is, and how it has a community and family feel. And that it’s so dog friendly.”
Env Obeya and Abah Obeya Env and her brother Abah enjoy coming to Runway at Playa Vista to grab a healthy lunch at Whole Foods. Env, who works at Deutsch, also likes grabbing drinks Sol Cocina: “The margaritas are amazing!”
Nikky Braunstein “I love living in a community where we can walk everywhere and my child can play with other kids in the neighborhood,” says Nikky, who’s also partial to the mango margaritas at Sol Cocina.
Oriana Murphy A new mom and Playa Vista local, Oriana likes going out with her husband for sushi. “SweetFish is probably my favorite,” she says.
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by Design Beachy and organic colors set the tone for a young coupleâ€™s Playa Vista sanctuary Story by Robyn Paris Photos by Shilah Montiel
26 Playa Vista Direct | February Âˇ March 2017
Hom e L e f t:
r i g h t:
hat do you get when a former New England lobsterman marries a Southern California interior designer? A gorgeous Playa Vista home that reflects both the serenity and riches of the sea. Native Californian interior designer Marisa Avallon and her Boston-native husband Greg, now a financial advisor, share their unique bicoastal style that features a neutral, soothing palette of color and natural materials. Marisa, who grew up in a family of designers and artists (her grandfather was the interior designer for one of Michael Jackson’s homes) does interior design and decorating for Playa Vista master developer Brookfield Residential. While she initially designed model homes in
Marisa and Greg Avallon’s “Woodson” living room has plenty of natural light streaming in through glass doors.
The Avallons’ patio is accented with a whimsical lobster pillow as a reminder of Greg’s Water Dog Lobster Company
Playa Vista, she now works with buyers as well, helping them pick finishes for their newly appointed residences. The couple’s three-story home, one of Brookfield’s detached “Woodson” residences, has gorgeous and durable French white oak floors, chosen by Marisa. The kitchen is massive and gleams white with pristine Ceasarstone countertops and plenty of cabinet space. Natural light pours in from the large windows. Greg and his brother started a lobstering business off the coast of Massachusetts as kids and the home’s décor pairs this family history with Marisa’s SoCal upbringing. A huge map of the Boston area adorns one wall opposite buoys from Greg’s lobster boat that served as the signing boards at the
couple’s wedding. Framed photographs from trips to Italy and France remind them of their travels, while various “cool and interesting” knickknacks they’ve acquired in vintage stores and flea markets fill their shelves. A favorite piece is a teak hand chair that, while it looks like a fun seat, serves “more as a place for purses,” Marisa says with a laugh. While Marisa adjusts her designs to fit the personality of clients, in her own home she prefers neutral colors: beige, cream white, greys — “beachy organic colors.” Their bedroom is “super comfortable, serene and tonal,” she says. Most of the furniture is bleached white oak. “I gravitate towards calm, soothing neutral colors.” (Continued on page 28)
Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 27
(Continued from page 27)
The decision to move to Playa Vista was a no-brainer for Greg and Marisa. Looking to transition from Venice, they visited friends in Playa Vista a few times and were charmed by the “Pleasantville”-like atmosphere and peaceful vibe. Moving to Playa Vista “was like going to college,” she says. “Everyone is meeting each other at once. No one knew who their neighbors were going to be.” Greg adds that the general perception of Playa Vista is that it’s a great place to raise a young family. “This area is a breeding ground,” he says. “All you see are babies and pregnant women walking around.” This fits for the newly married couple, as they plan to start a family of their own soon. Marisa notes that Playa Vista is “completely different from Venice or Santa Monica — there’s a peacefulness, it’s quiet, it’s a sanctuary.”
Greg and Marisa Avallon at home with their pooches, Patrick and Stormy.
Their spacious kitchen and landscaped backyard area with fire pit, grill and succulent wall allows them to frequently have people over to barbecue. “There’s so much within reach,” says Marisa. “Whether it’s riding a bike path down to the beach or taking Patrick
and Stormy [the dogs] to a bluff trail by LMU, we are always active. Playa Vista neighbors have become tight friends — people to share a glass of wine with after work and to travel with.” (Continued on page 30)
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©2017 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office is owned by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. Coldwell Banker® and the Coldwell Banker Logo, Coldwell Banker Previews International® and the Coldwell Banker Previews International Logo, are registered service marks owned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.
BUYING, SELLING, OR LEASING... ASK
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(Continued from page 28)
Greg adds that each year his brother sends about 60 or 70 lobsters from their business, and they invite friends over for a lobster bake in the large kitchen. “We’ve made so many really great friends,” Greg says. “When we moved here, we didn’t know what to expect. Now, we’re two years into it and neither one of us has any thoughts about leaving.” Marisa, in turn, is very content with her job designing for Brookfield. “I love working in the community,” she says, “and I walk to work every day” — a rare treat in Los Angeles.
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“Highest Resale Price Record” reflects MLS Single Family Home Sales Data for Playa Vista for all Playa Vista listings in 2016. Data does not include homes sales that were conducted privately or not reported to the MLS. Compass California, Inc. is a licensed real estate broker (01991628) in the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale or withdraw without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. Exact dimensions can be obtained by retaining the services of an architect or engineer. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. CA BRE#01365696
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‘A Crucible of Creativity’ LMU is opening a Playa Vista satellite campus for graduate film students and special events By Gary Walker
yeing a greater presence in West L.A.’s ever-growing creative technology sector, Loyola Marymount University is expanding its footprint into Playa Vista. The private Jesuit school just up the hill has signed a long-term lease deal for more than 50,000 square feet at The Brickyard, the newly completed multistructure creative office complex adjacent to Playa Vista Central Park. Set to open in the fall of 2018, the LMU Playa Vista Campus will house graduate-level programs for the LMU School of Film & Television as well as “dynamic creator spaces for students and the greater community,” the university announced in early February. “LMU Playa Vista Campus is a game-changer,” LMU President Timothy Law Snyder said. “As the University of Silicon Beach, our industry partnerships, immersive and interdisciplinary learn-
ing opportunities, career pathways and ideal location are unmatched. LMU is already a crucible of creativity, where world-changing ideas are imagined and formed. Silicon Beach is one of the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystems, an ideal counterpart for LMU as the definitive center for global imagination and its impacts.” LMU’s fast-growing film school, currently No. 6 in USA Today’s national film school rankings and No. 8 in The Hollywood Reporter’s, has been quick to embrace emerging digital technology. School of Film and Television spokeswoman Julie Porter said having a physical presence in Playa Vista will be a catalyst for new collaborations with innovators in the private sector. “We’re really excited about the creative partnerships and opportunities within this dynamic community. And as the School of Film and Television
partners with the tech giant and digital entertainment companies in Silicon Beach, we’re preparing students for the world’s most desirable careers— they’re building a portfolio of skills in demand by companies leading the creative economy,” Porter said. Designed by Michael Maltzan of the L.A. architecture firm Gensler and developed by commercial real estate giants Tishman Speyer, The Brickyard — named for its white-glazed brick exteriors — encompasses 425,000 square feet of office and retail space at 12105 and 12126 W. Waterfront Drive. LMU did not disclose the terms of its lease. The Brickyard satellite campus isn’t the school’s only entrée into Playa Vista. Its M-School Institute of Marketing, Center for Urban Resilience, Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Education have been active in the community for years.
LMU is leasing more than 50,000 square feet of The Brickyard creative campus on West Waterfront Drive to house its graduate film and television program Photo courtesy of LMU
32 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
SEE WHAT’S NEW IN
PLAYA VISTA Weekend Highlights Guided Community Walking Tours Playa Vista Welcome Center Saturday & Sunday, 11am Farmers’ Market at Runway Saturday, 9am – 2pm Surprise Pop-Up Event Common Grounds Friday, February 17th, 11am – 2pm
Playa Vista is where open space, recreation, entertainment, shopping, dining, tech and new homes all come together to reimagine your life in Silicon Beach. With a sense of connection all around and signature events always happening, it’s no wonder Playa Vista has become the Westside address of choice. LUXURY HOME COLLECTIONS FROM THE MID $1 MILLIONS
Plans, pricing, square footage, products, amenities and community/neighborhood information are subject to change. Model does not reflect racial preference. © 2017 Playa Vista. All rights reserved.
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34 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
H e a lt h
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
A strong pose that addresses tightness in the hip and pelvis
Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
with a Pro
A highly adaptable grounding pose that strengthens your core
Aren Wolf Yoga Instructor
Playa Vista transplant by way of Austin, Aren Wolf experiences yoga through both physical posture and philosophical meaning. Standing up tall and strong for a Warrior II pose, for example, requires a lot of foundation work in preparation to take on a challenge. The advanced Crow Pose offers a lesson the first time you fail: “It’s easy to fall right on your face. How you react tells you where you’re at — if you can laugh at that, it tells you something; if you get mad, it tells you something different.” Wolf, 33, was drawn to yoga as an extension of the body awareness he developed as a college athlete. “It’s like sports,” he says, “but you’re only competing against yourself.” Wolf helps manage Yoga Works Playa Vista and teaches throughout the community. Follow @YogaWithTheWolf on Instagram or visit alldaynamaste.com.
Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Arms, shoulders and abdomen work to defy gravity and stretch the back Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 35
Life is Just
a Bowl of Poke ‘Top Chef ’ alum Brooke Williamson keeps it fresh with Da Kikokiko Story by Jessica Koslow Photos by Erica Allen
36 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
F ood Poke is a traditional
Hawaiian dish of seasoned cubed fish and veggies over a bed of rice.
Husband-wife restarateurs N i c k Rob erts a nd B roo ke W illi amson
at work in the Da Kikokiko kitchen.
op Chef ” alum Brooke Williamson likes to keep things moving. Whether it’s opening a new restaurant — Runway at Playa Vista newcomer Da Kikokiko is her and husband Nick Roberts’ fourth — or changing her hair color from her natural honey brown to purple and now to blonde, Williamson likes to find outlets for her creativity. “We could continue to do the same kind of cuisine,” says Williamson, sitting beside Roberts on an outdoor bench of Da Kikokiko (which means “the spot” in Hawaiian), “but we wouldn’t fulfill everything we want to do. Having so many different concepts allows us to think of a dish and have a place to put it.” Williamson is referring to the couple’s growing restaurant empire, called Company for Dinner, which also includes Hudson House in Redondo Beach and Playa Provisions, The Tripel and the culinary boutique Tripli-Kit in Playa del Rey. Sandwiched between Hopdoddy Burger Bar and the local branch of
Chase bank, Da Kikokiko opened in October and offers all three of the couple’s favorite Hawaiian foods: poke, shaved ice and musubi (grilled spam on top of rice, wrapped together with a piece of seaweed). “We’ve always liked Hawaiian food,” says Roberts. “We have a favorite place on Washington Boulevard, Rutt’s Cafe. I’m a Spam fanatic. I love Spam. This is an awesome collaboration between all of those foods.” “It’s surprising there aren’t more Hawaiian street food places,” adds Williamson. “There are poke places, but in order to find musubi you have to seek it out.” Serving authentic shaved ice is important to the couple, who have an 8-year-old son who loves the cold treat. They traveled to Hawaii to experience and recreate the texture of real shaved ice, which should not taste crunchy and overly sweet like a snow cone. Da Kikokiko’s chunky poke bowls include seven signature recipes or the option to build your own from mild or
spicy yellowfin tuna, lomi-lomi salmon, octopus, Japanese eggplant or ‘Krab with a K’ combined with any of 30 different toppings and one of six sauces. Williamson and Roberts met 15 years ago in the kitchen of Zax in Brentwood. Roberts was Williamson’s sous-chef. So, then, they were friends first? “Sort of,” says Roberts. “… ish,” adds Williamson. “We didn’t love each other at first.” Today, they wouldn’t have things any other way. As they stand side by side in the kitchen plating a Yellowfin Tuna poke bowl, or sit together talking about their passion projects, their working relationship works. “It’s the only way we know each other,” says Williamson. “It’s nice to not have to explain your day to someone who doesn’t understand.” “Or, at the same time, explain your day and they do understand,” Roberts says. Both Williamson and Roberts are beach lovers. It’s why they picked
(Continued on page 38)
Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017 37
(Continued from page 37)
seaside communities for all of their restaurants. Roberts surfs. They both love the ocean. “It feels very comfortable on this side of town,” says Williamson. “It feels like a different city.” When the couple first met, Williamson lived in Hollywood and Roberts resided in Redondo Beach. The two moved in together in Venice, then moved from Mar Vista to Marina del Rey to Westchester, where they recently bought a home. The couple often eats dinner at local spots such as Ayara Thai Cuisine, Kanpai Japanese Sushi Bar, ASAP Phorage, Caffe Pinguini and Alejo’s. The first restaurant Williamson and Roberts opened together was Amuse Café, which launched in 2003 on Main Street near Abbot Kinney Boulevard. After it closed, they opened Beechwood in 2005 on Washington Boulevard, but eventually decided to part ways with their partner.
38 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2017
Da Kikokiko’s signature poke bowls feature tuna, salmon, octopus, Japanese eggplant and teriyaki chicken.
Then, eight years ago, they hit their stride with Hudson House in Redondo Beach. The Tripel and Playa Provisions followed. Tripli-Kit, currently tucked behind The Tripel, sells knives, aprons, dishes, cookbooks and other of the couple’s favorite items. Williamson’s mom is a potter, and Tripli-Kit sells her butter
bells, berry bowls and olive dishes. “We share with the public stuff they can’t get on Amazon,” says Williamson. When Williamson’s not in the kitchen at one of her four eateries, she’s traveling — usually for TV, which is something she has a lot of fun doing, much to her surprise.
(Continued on page 40)
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