“This will be your new favorite thing,” Mitchel Zelinger says, handing off a spoon with a steaming roasted tomato on top.
He pulls the rest of the sliced tomatoes out of the oven as he explains that his grandma would make this side dish in the traditional way by placing them on a tablecloth in the driveway, roasting them slowly under the sun.
“You’ll see, it’s like candy.”
Executive Vice President is a title that brings countless dinners and connections with industry professionals over food and drink. It’s a practice that has been around as long as the title, but when Mitchel joined Studio Other years before, he put his own spin on things.
Mitchel first found his passion for cooking as a teenager in his aunt’s Beverly Hills kitchen after moving in with her in 1980. He attributes his love for the art form entirely to her.
“If not for Aunt Elsa, I would not be in the kitchen,” Mitchel says. “She was Julia Child when Julia Child was just becoming Julia Child on PBS.”
Preparing food quickly became his personal expression of creativity and a way to connect with the design-obsessed individuals at or associated with Studio Other.
“My ode to being a maker of things is this,” he says, waving a hand over the ingredients strewn across the kitchen counter. “I can’t design in the traditional sense so I design with food.”
Mitchel understands hospitality and recognizes the value a casual setting and a good meal has in human connection. When he can, he forgoes the formal dinners and opts to cook a meal for his guests right in Studio Other’s downtown showroom fully-stocked kitchen—a kitchen that Mitchel personally ensured the office would include for this very purpose. By doing this, he creates an intimate, interactive and relaxed setting that cultivates connection and community among those in the space.
“I like when people are just hanging out right here,” he says, gesturing to the kitchen bar he’s standing behind. “Most people haven’t had someone make a meal for them before. It shows a level of care. You can’t get this experience in a restaurant.”
When he’s not cooking for clients, he’s cooking for his wife, Ingrid, and his two daughters, Isabella and Mikaela. In fact, it was Mitchel’s culinary zest that won his wife over when he prepared shrimp scampi for their first date.
“It takes 30 seconds to cook shrimp. I must have cooked that thing for 45 minutes. Ingrid never said a word. I had her at crappy shrimp,” he says.
Much like a designer, a good cook must accept culinary bumbles as a necessary path in the creative process.
“If you love it, failure is a part of it,” says Mitchel. “It might taste like sh*t. And if it does, order pizza.”
While not every meal is a success, the current one he’s wrapping up certainly smells like it is. By this time, a savory aroma has filled the space, signaling that the meal is almost ready. Mitchel finishes plating the dish and calls over Studio Other employees working at their desks, gesturing for them to join him in the kitchen.
“We all eat together. This is family mealtime,” he says, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel. “Take your shoes off, have a cocktail, relax.”
Mitchel’s Braised Beef Short Ribs Recipe
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound pancetta, cubed into small pieces
- 8 bone-in beef short ribs, patted dry with a paper towel
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery cut into 1/4” slices
- 2 cups carrots cut into 1/4” slices
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- Just a pinch of cinnamon (trust me on this)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 3 fresh sprigs (go with fresh if you can)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 fresh sprigs (again, go fresh)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 cup flour (possibly 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add in the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally until it’s crispy and the fat has rendered. ~4-5 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and set aside. Cover with a paper towel.
- Leave the fat in the pot and set aside.
- Pour the flour in a large pie pan, season with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper; mix to combine.
- Taking a few ribs at a time, dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess.
- Place the Dutch oven back over the heat and turn the heat up to medium-high.
- Working in batches, add in the flour-coated ribs. Do not crowd or they won’t sear up correctly.
- Brown on all sides, ~5-7 minutes.
- Remove from the pot, place on a plate and continue browning the rest until they are all done.
- When the short ribs are done browning add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic to the Dutch oven.
- Season with the remaining salt. This will help draw out the moisture from the vegetables.
- Sauté until soft; about 8 minutes.
- Add in the tomato paste and cinnamon (I’m telling you, trust me on this one!) and cook for 2-3 minutes. You’ll want to stir this and keep an eye on it so the tomato paste doesn’t burn.
- Add the pancetta and short ribs back to the pot.
- Pour the wine in and bring to a simmer.
- Cook this as you’ll need it to reduce by half. ~25-30 minutes.
- Add in the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and just enough stock to barely cover the ribs. You don’t want to submerge them as you don’t want to make soup. You should still be able to see the tops of the ribs.
- Bring to a slow boil, cover it and place in the preheated oven.
- Braise, covered in the oven for about 2 hours. Every 45 minutes or so, check the liquid level. You want to be sure it doesn’t evaporate. If it gets low, add more of your stock.
- After about 2 hours, remove the lid and cook for another 45 minutes or until the meat is super tender and literally just pulls off the bone.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef ribs and place on a serving platter.
- Remove the bay leaf from the pot.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of stock to form a slurry.
- Pour the slurry into the Dutch oven and stir well until the sauce thickens into a chunky-vegetable gravy.
- Add salt/pepper to your taste.