While staring down a Journeymen-created gauntlet of crusty bread heaped with meat, a wood board smeared with pate, some duck on a plate, it’s easy to forget you’re in Atwater Village, and not tucked into a wood-fired room in provincial France. The restaurant, opened in late-2017 with chef David Wilcox at the helm, eschews the light and bright “California-meets-X” fare trending of late and dives straight into richer, arguable more satisfying classics. It’s transportive, to say the least.
Despite the rigor of skill the menu demands, Journeymen has a casual, intimate feel to it. The kitchen opens up to a dining room with white walls and wooden tables, where diners sip on natural wines and tear into bread Wilcox makes in house every day. While Wilcox is trained in French cooking, Journeymen was inspired by the pintxos of the Basque Country, which serve up slews of bite-sized finger foods. It’s not exactly a tapas restaurant, but that won’t stop you from ordering every dish offered.
Together, with fellow Gjelina alum and general manager Guy Tabibian, Wilcox has created neighborhood restaurant worth, well, the journey from parts further still. Below, Wilcox talks bowls of popcorn, Chevy pickups, and shark attacks in reverse.
Place of residence:
An ethics-driven pursuit of running a food business focussed on the preservation of timeless techniques and methods.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Peter fucking Pan.
Quote to live by:
First job you ever had:
GET EM ‘N GO. $.39 hamburgers.
Least favorite part of your day:
Dealing with LAUSD in any capacity.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
Dan Deacon “Crystal Cat” or Ty Segall “Reverse Shark Attack.”
Three guilty pleasures:
Old movies and giant bowls of popcorn; sleeping more than six hours; having a 1972 Chevy pickup.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?
Groundhog Day. So meta.
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
A bunch of unknown artists’ work from all walks of life.
Plane, train or automobile for a trip?
What IS your favorite trip?
One with an open-ended agenda.
Personal travel ethos:
Go somewhere new and get uncomfortable.
Drink of choice:
Beach house or tree house:
Tree house on the beach.
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
No one meal stands out amongst many great ones as I believe each moment has its best possible scenario. That being said, I’m currently dreaming of this guacamole and ceviche I had on a beach in Costa Rica.
What is the best news you ever received?
The moment my son was born into my arms at home and I saw he was healthy.
Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.
Chefs’ egos. This whole chef/rockstar phenomenon has ballooned beyond absurdity. The manipulation of food simply to see how far one can go. Endless wastefulness in the pursuit of “perfection.” Being an asshole chef. All of the competition cooking shows and uninformative dribble that perpetuate such a shallow perspective on cooking. This is largely overrated. The spectacle that makes up a majority of modern cooking entertainment is a disservice to the craft.
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.
A brief list of favorites. Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish album. The Bad Plus, recently. Rage Against the Machine, 2007. A show at the Taro Patch on Kauai. Dead Meadow at HM157. Dave Chappelle at The Independent in San Francisco.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
Anywhere in nature.