Raised in the South, and having lived and worked in Atlanta and Charleston, Brian Dunsmoor brings a uniquely Southern voice to the Los Angeles dining scene. Most-recently, he and his business partner Jonathan Strader mounted a successful pop-up. They’re currently working on opening their own restaurant on the “West Side” of the city.

I spent a morning with Dunsmoor and Strader at the bustling Santa Monica Farmers Market. Gregarious fellows, they seemed to know everyone who walked by. But between the high-fives and chats, we managed to pick up what we needed for lunch and two Absolut Vodka cocktails.

“I’m making a spicy cocktail to pair with a shrimp boil,” Dunsmoor said as he zeroed in on a crate of jalapeños.

“This guy has the best jarred olives.” Dunsmoor steered us towards a stand crowded with jars of all sizes. He plucked a tall, slim jar off the table. “Jalapeño-stuffed,” he said with a mischievous smirk, “I’m going make this cocktail really spicy.”

Dunsmoor knew he wanted to grill pork collar. So, we swung by the Peads & Barnetts stand. Oliver Woolley told me that his farm in Southern California is named after his family’s ancestral farm in England. “’Peads’ is a stream that ran through my grandparents’ farm, and ‘barnetts’ is an old English word for turnips,” he explained. Now, Woolley raises a special breed of hogs crossbred from Middle Whites and fatty Mangalitsas. Dunsmoor opened the coolers and rummaged around until he pulled out a beautiful cut of pork collar.

Seeing pumpkins, Dunsmoor became suddenly inspired: pork with pumpkin and carrots.

To complete the autumnal theme of the pork collar dish, Dunsmoor grabbed a bunch of fresh sage.

In the kitchen, the first thing Dunsmoor did was to chop up some jalapeños, put them in a mason jar, and topped it off with Absolut Vodka. He set the jar in the freezer to steep and chill.

Next, Dunsmoor dropped potatoes, andouille sausages, halved heads of garlic, and ears of corn into a pot of boiling water thick with Old Bay. At the last minute, he dropped in shell-on shrimp, killed the heat, and then put a lid on the pot to let the shrimp cook slowly. A few minutes later, he strained out the steaming shrimp boil, speckled with spice.

Dunsmoor ladled the chilled, chili-infused Absolut into a mason jar full of ice, and then finished it with a splash of jalapeño-stuffed olive juice. He paired this spicy Absolut Vodka drink with the shrimp boil. Together, with the savory spices in the shrimp boil sauce and andouille sausage, the cocktail was a fiery trip to the bayou.

Dunsmoor sliced the pork collar into thin cutlets and grilled them. He topped the meat with brown butter-glazed carrots and pumpkin with fried sage. The meat was surprisingly dark and very tender and fatty.

To pair with the hearty, nutty flavors of the pork collar, Strader made his version of the “Moscow Mule.” He piled crushed ice into a copper cup, filled it with Absolut, ginger beer, and a topped it with a generous squeeze of lime juice.

Dunsmoor’s pork collar with pumpkin and sage with Strader’s “Moscow Mule.”

Dunsmoor’s Southern heritage was evident in the dishes and cocktails he made for me. He turned otherwise humble ingredients into a hearty and flavorful fare, full of soul and spice. He looks forward to sharing more of his Southern, culinary roots with Los Angeles soon.

Bonjwing Lee

The Next 75 Miles Story

Mei Lin

Mei Lin

Bonjwing meets with Mei Lin. A current cheftestapant on Bravo's Top Chef, Lin explores what Santa Monica has to offer and creates a stunning meal.

See Mei's Gorgeous Meal