Chef Keith Corbin joined the L.A. Times Book Club on Aug. 23 to discuss his memoir, “California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival.”
Corbin talked about family, food, addiction, the gangster life and the power of second chances in a conversation with Times Food editor Daniel Hernandezat the ASU California Center in the Herald Examiner Building downtown.
You can watch below.
“California Soul” is the story behind one of Southern California’s most celebrated chefs and how he created his version of California soul food in Los Angeles.
“My love for food started with spending time with my grandmother in the kitchen,” he told the audience. “It was all about big cooks and feeding the block.”
When Corbin writes about growing up in a world awash in drugs, guns and gangs, it burns with the intensity of the best pulp fiction, says author Jervey Tervalon. “But it isn’t fiction — it’s the life he lived.”
Corbin’s young life as a drug dealer landed him in prison, but that turned out to be the beginning chapter of his story rather than the end. “California Soul” tells how he unexpectedly found a passion for cooking.
He says he wasn’t looking for a career in the kitchen when he went to work for Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson at their Watts neighborhood restaurant, Locol. He needed a job and heard about a new restaurant in his old Watts neighborhood that was hiring.
“I was just coming home from prison. I had been fired from my other job. It was about paying bills,” Corbin says during a recent conversation with Laurie Ochoa at The Times Test Kitchen.
During his kitchen visit, Corbin created and shared the recipe for Vegan California Gombo from the menu at Alta Adams, the restaurant he now co-owns in the West Adams neighborhood.
“California Soul” is the L.A. Times Book Club’s August selection.
In September, we’re reading “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” by bestselling novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Get tickets.
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