10 questions with Tallula’s executive chef Brad Long
By Kamala Kirk
Located just steps from the beach, Tallula’s is a globally-inspired Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica Canyon that is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Part of the Rustic Canyon Family, Tallula’s creates time-honored recipes with a focus on high-quality organic ingredients sourced from regional farmers, fisherman, ranchers and purveyors with sustainable practices, in addition to the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Recently, the neighborhood destination welcomed executive chef Brad Long, a Long Beach native and third-generation Mexican American who makes his return to California after living on the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf for the past five years. Long honed his culinary skills at critically-acclaimed spots across the country like Playground, Husk and Shaya, and was previously the event chef at The Ace Hotel in New Orleans.
He brings an incredible, wide range of experience from modern fine dining and large-scale events to making charcuterie and cooking all types of cuisine, from Southern to Israeli. Long is excited to celebrate his heritage through the food at Tallula’s and put his own creative stamp on their California-influenced Mexican cuisine.
“From the time I could eat, I have been enjoying Mexican foods of all varieties,” Long says. “The idea of grinding our own masa and making our own tortillas at Tallula’s is what has me most excited so far. I love the idea of being able to create familiar Mexican comfort foods with locally sourced, organic ingredients.”
What got you interested in cooking?
My grandmother actually cooked professionally for hospitals. Growing up and hearing her stories always had me interested in the trade from a young age.
How did you become a chef?
I started washing dishes when I was a teenager and worked my way up through the kitchen. My years working under Travis Grimes at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina really helped guide me to where I am now.
Most important thing you learned in culinary school?
I did not attend culinary school. It was a lot of hard work, long hours, asking a ton of questions and always reading.
What’s the first dish you learned to make really well?
The first dish I learned to make really well was my mother’s infamous rice. It’s the one thing at all family gatherings that everyone looks forward to and I couldn’t wait to learn how to make it on my own.
Signature dish you’re known for?
I don’t necessarily have a “signature dish” but my wife and friends always ask me to make my salsa verde smoked pork butts for gatherings. Pre-COVID, of course.
Favorite ingredient to cook with and why?
I love cooking beans and legumes. There are so many different varieties—they vary from region to region and are always different to cook with or use.
Kitchen tool you can’t live without?
A very sharp mandoline.
Who do you look up to in the culinary world?
I’m very grateful to be working with Jeremy Fox (chef and co-owner of Tallula’s, Rustic Canyon and Birdie G’s). He is always someone I have respected and looked up to as far as food and everything he has accomplished.
What do you love about being a chef?
I love getting excited about ingredients, mentoring and teaching other chefs, and building relationships with local farms and purveyors.
If you could have a meal with anyone, who would it be?
My wife has always been my favorite person to eat with and I couldn’t imagine enjoying a great meal without her.
For more information, visit tallulasrestaurant.com