The Tehrangeles Series | Mashti Malone’s
What’s the story behind your name, Mashti Malone’s?
In the late 1970’s Mashti Shirvani, an Iranian student living in Los Angeles, started working as a chef in Persian restaurants to support himself. Later, he found an abandoned ice cream shop called Mugsy Malone’s in Hollywood. He used all of his savings to buy the lease from the landlord and the equipment inside the store. There wasn’t enough money left to change the entire sign, so he only changed a few letters. Mugsy Malone’s became Mashti Malone’s.
What are the most popular items on your menu at the moment?
Our exotic Persian and Middle Eastern flavours like saffron rosewater ice cream, orange blossom, faloudeh (rose ice), as well as our Turkish coffee ice cream and French lavender.
How do your recipes keep alive the spirit of Iranian culture? And how are they inspired by American culture?
These are centuries-old recipes and we have all grown up with these flavours. Americans are very welcoming and open minded about other foods and cultures. That gives newcomers the opportunity to introduce their food. It took us a while to convince our American customers that rose is not just for cosmetic use. Now most of those who try it are hooked.
Mashti Malone’s opened in 1980? What was the neighbourhood like then?
During the late 1980s and 1990s Hollywood wasn’t being paid much attention. In the late 90s and early 2000s, with the help of the city and investors, Hollywood was given a major facelift. We now see more locals and tourists visiting the neighbourhood.
Apart from ice cream, do you enjoy cooking? Do you go out for dinner much?
I make the best steaks. But when we are craving a good kabob we go to Mashti’s home – he makes the best kabobs. Raffi’s Place in Glendale and Darya Restaurant in Tustin are some of the best as well.
What do you enjoy about life in LA?
I always say we landed in the best place possible. LA is a multicultural city. We have the best weather and beaches and so many things to do all year around.
What does the term Tehrangeles mean to you?
If you recall the movie ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, Eddie Murphy drives to the Beverly Hills police station. He hears the intercom that says ‘for Farsi press 1, for English press 2’. And that was almost 20 years ago. Iranians made a mark here with Bijan, the beloved designer who owned the most expensive shop on the most expensive street – Rodeo drive. Firouz Naderi was the manager of NASA’s Mars project and now the Milky Way Project. And of course, Downtown LA’s garment and jewellery district is dominated by Iranians. These are just a few examples of Tehrangelenos.
Describe a perfect day in Tehrangeles.
Picking up a fresh sangak bread from Woodland Hills Market. Enjoying a Noon o Panir (bread and cheese) for breakfast. Listening to AM 670 Kirn, the Iranian radio’s morning show with Sassan Kamali, then heading to Malibu beach. Afternoons at Mashti Malone’s ice cream, followed by Cabaret Tehran at night.
What do you think are the major misconceptions people have about the Iranian community in LA?
For the longest time, Americans had no real knowledge of Iranian Americans. It took many years and the help of the Internet for people to get to know us. I see and feel a very strong bond between Iranians and Americans.
Do you still feel a strong connection with Iran?
Even though we call Los Angeles home, Iran is where we are from and it is what has made us who we are today. My best memories are from the time I lived there. Most of my family and best friends still live there. We have a lot to be proud of as Iranians, including our history, culture and hospitality.
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