On any given day, the thumping of a hammer or screeching of a blade cutting metal is broadcast throughout the city of Los Angeles, specifically downtown, and often in preparation for the next highly anticipated restaurant. It’s a soundtrack we Angelenos have become accustomed to, while L.A. has recently begun gathering serious national attention as a celebrated hotbed for food art, and culture. Los Angeles wasn’t born yesterday, and has always been a city that I deeply admire and respect, but it’s hard to argue––there is change in the air.
With countless restaurant openings in the last several years, Otium is one such establishment that embraces L.A.’s current evolution, from the city’s creative contributors to downtown’s path to the future. Such an achievement is only made possible by way of collaboration with its community.
Late last year, Life & Thyme released a film documenting the early stages of Otium’s manifestation—both physically and ideologically—through the lens of its renowned chef, Timothy Hollingsworth and his ethos in food. At the time, I stepped through a shell of a restaurant adjacent to The Broad Museum, one that would eventually be a creative and culinary influence for the city. But it’s an influence hidden in plain sight, an influence that goes beyond than the plate of food on a dining table, and an influence that can only be told with the stories of unsung heroes that worked together to bring an idea to life.
The final cinematic chapter in our Otium series highlights the hands that literally built the restaurant: local artisans responsible for the dishes from which diners eat, the chairs on which hungry guests sit, the light illuminating the dining hall––even the metal that holds each table together. Every detail is intentional and the result of talent, imagination and technical precision; a true fusion of creative minds, they come together to define the dining experience.
While there is no doubt I will be scarfing down Hollingsworth’s decadent, crusty mille feuille at the close of this note, I will also give a gentle nod to the artisan behind the plate on which it’s served (Irving Place Studio, if you were wondering) and quietly commemorate the many hands of true craftsmen that work behind the scenes, to bring physical manifestations of a space to life for the sheer pleasure of others.
Otium is perched on Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles at 222 South Hope St.