Verlaine Chef Diego Hernandez: "The Idea Is to Work With What the Land Gives Us" | THR Eats

"If you look for the most flavorful food that you can find, you end up finding that it's local, and it's organic, and it's sustainable. Everything is connected."

To understand great food, you must go out and eat, according to Diego Hernandez.

"I don't think you can judge your work, if you don't judge it as a customer," he told The Hollywood Reporter for the July issue of THR Eats, featuring Verlaine restaurant in West Hollywood.

Growing up in the Baja state of Mexico, Hernandez "didn't grow up eating moles," although he constructs his own special version of the traditional Mexican sauce, but instead "grew up eating sashimi." Verlaine offers various delicate seafood dishes such as ceviches, oysters and yellowtail tostadas, which Hernandez served up to THR.

Hernandez says the idea behind all of his products, including Verlaine, is: "We're working with all the seafood from the Pacific Ocean, and from the farms that are around: Ojai, Moorpark and further north."

"Human relationships are everything," Hernandez told THR. "Building community with the chefs for me is important, because we are at the time where everybody shares everything. I think maybe before chefs were very jealous with their recipes," said Hernandez, but now he can pick up the phone and ask his colleagues questions and advice.

He also works to befriend the farmers from whom he sources his ingredients. "You have to really care what they do, and show respect for what they do, so they give you the best that they have. They are not going to give you the best fish, or the best vegetable if you don't have the sensibility to appreciate that."