The Foodie Jock
We recently sat down on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with the Dodgers’ two-time All-Star (soon to be three given how well he and the team have started out this season!) right fielder, Andre Ethier. Andre and his bustling family of four reside here during the regular season and make Arizona their home in the off-season. He is very interested in food culture and, in fact, previously wrote a food blog for the team’s website. On the field fans see the intensity and focus he brings to the game, but it is refreshing to see an athlete light-up with an engaging smile when talking about his two young boys and his culinary adventures. We talked while sitting in the home dugout with his teammates running in the outfield and the grounds crew getting the field into game-ready shape.
LAX: Andre, thank you again for taking the time to meet today.
Andre Ethier: (sitting down while finishing a post-lunch pop tart) Glad to take the time and it is nice to meet you.
LAX: So, to get started, with a busy game schedule during the season, what are some of the things you like to do in L.A. when you get a break?
AE: It can be tough, especially when we have a night game, but definitely my favorite thing is to play around with my boys in the yard. Nothing beats family time after a tough game. We do have a number of favorite spots for meals that we enjoy. In particular, I love the food and staff at Osteria Mozza (in Hancock Park). The folks there know me pretty well, so when I call ahead, they always put my favorite appetizer (tripe) on the table waiting for me. I grew up eating tripe and other foods like it, so to have it done highend Italian style is pretty special.
LAX: Osteria Mozza just got some great news with (Executive Chef) Matt Molina winning his James Beard award. We recently profiled their Singapore location and David Almany, the chef there, gave a lot of credit to Matt Top image: Credit Juan Ocampo/LA Dodgers. Bottom image: Credit Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers LAX-MAGAZINE.COM 2 6 SUMMER 2012 as a mentor.
AE: That was great news for the restaurant and really well deserved. We had a private dinner for my thirtieth birthday there and he cooked for us. Outstanding food.
LAX: I imagine you wind up eating here in the clubhouse frequently on game days. What kind of fare does the team provide?
AE: You’ll probably be surprised, but the Dodgers do a nice job of providing a rotation of diverse good food to the team — we have sushi on Fridays and just last Wednesday we had Ruth Chris Steakhouse here. In addition, I’ve been fortunate to play with so many teammates from the Dominican Republic and other countries, who will often bring in food that they grew up with and introduce all of us to a great diversity of spices and flavors.
LAX: What is your general opinion of the L.A. food scene?
AE: I find the food scene here in L.A. to be unique and one of extremes: you have these great high-end restaurants and at the same time there are amazing “low-end” hole-in-the-wall spots, often concentrated in particular neighborhood areas. When I have time I love to hit Thaitown, Chinatown, Japantown, Koreatown or a local taqueria. Tofuya, Tinga and Kagaya are particular favorites. L.A. has these little spots run by folks who have been cooking the same dish for decades; taking good traditional family recipes and transforming them.
LAX: What is it that first drew you to the food scene and to appreciate the restaurant experience?
AE: The best thing about going out is that I can just relax and put the day behind me. As much as I love going to fantastic restaurants, I’m just as happy grabbing a really good burger at a dive if that gives me an opportunity to hang out with my teammates.
LAX: You get to travel to some strong food cities, like San Francisco, New York and Chicago. Do you get anytime to explore?
AE: When I am on the road in a town with a well-known food scene, if we have an off day I will try to get in to a high-end place. I was recently able to eat at Alinea, Next and the Girl and Goat in Chicago.
LAX: Molecular Gastronomy is fun every once in a while.
AE: Exactly. Grant Anchutz is so talented and I really enjoyed the experience, but it would be tough to eat there too frequently. I think his rotation of the menu every few months is a good idea.
LAX: Have you tried Momofuku in New York?
AE: Yes, I actually try to have lunch there regularly. I’ve also been to Per Se, but haven’t yet made it up to Napa to eat at the French Laundry. In many cities the restaurants aren’t open past 10 pm, which is tough with a night game. I did have a great meal over at Nopa in San Francisco, which is open late. Also enjoyed a nice dim sum breakfast at Yang Sing.
LAX: In the off-season when you have more time, do you and your family travel?
AE: For the past few years we have gone to the Caribbean, which has been great fun, especially for the boys. The food down there is worth the trip — the spices and curries and super fresh ingredients. Like I said earlier, some of my teammates opened my eyes to the great food traditions in that area.
LAX: Andre, last question, with your kids growing up, have you had the chance to get them down to Disneyland yet?
AE: (laughing). I was just there last Wednesday! We had a wonderful day at the park and, hey, I had a turkey leg and a handful of churros! Family, food and good times. Doesn’t get better, does it?