Roast Potatoes For : Bub & Grandma's, Andy Kadin by SAEHEE CHO

Andy Kadin of Bub & Grandma's makes real bread--earnestly and without short cuts.

And if you've ever baked bread, watched the yeasted dough multiply and feed, seen the crust brown and crack...you know bread is magic.   More than the sum of its parts---it requires basic ingredients but an incredible amount of skill and patience.   Bread is also volatile, because after all, yeast is a living thing bending to weather, pH, moisture, and sugar.  In short, bread is exciting.

Bub & Grandma's makes this kind of bread, using locally milled whole grain flour and a genuine desire to make bread with integrity.

I was lucky enough to spend an early morning at Bub & Grandma's bakery watching rye loaves come out of the oven and jiggly ciabatta dough being portioned.  We spoke about the long hours, the mutual lack of sleep that seems requisite in the food world but also about the incredible generosity of friends that have gotten us to this point and how much we love what we do.

Read more of our conversation below.

SOO N: Tell us how you started with bread baking

Bub and Grandma's: It really spun off from a desire to open a sandwich shop. This town is sorely starved for an earnest sandwich – an earnest anything, really – so I thought I’d invest some time toward making my bread special while writing my business plan. I started at home making terrible, oddly-shaped ciabatta on a pizza stone. After about a year of loose futzing, my friend Jed fed some of my stuff to Scott Zwiezen of Elf and Dune restaurants and he asked me if I could make him 28 loaves for the next day. I blacked out and said yes only to come to and realize that I’d never made more than 8 loaves at a time. I somehow figured it out and started doing bread for them every morning. The next six months had me graduating from my crap home oven to a pizza oven (thanks to Town Pizza) to borrowing time in steam injection ovens (thanks to Clark Street and KandV) to buying my own (thanks again to Clark Street). Now I’m in my own bakery space and have had three days off since February.

 S: How would you define "good bread"?

B&G: Good bread can only be made by someone who gives a shit. If their motivations are for something other than creating the unreachable, absolute best – like, perhaps, money or smartly designed business cards or Instagram cred - their bread is not good bread. It will never be good bread. There has to be a psychological screw loose that causes the baker to hinge their entire well-being on whether the ear on their sourdough is perfectly separated or the crumb is as open as that famous guy from San Francisco’s loaf. And the thing with bread is that it almost never listens. There are so many factors that go into it being “right” that the properly motivated baker can almost never be satisfied. Anxiety. I think it’s anxiety. And I have plenty. The rest is high quality flour, patience and vigilance. I get my whole grain flour - where bread’s flavor and nutritional value come from - from Grist & Toll, an incredible local grain mill in Pasadena. I am extremely lucky to have Nan Kohler and her mill within 5 miles of my bakery, not just because of her flour but because of her smarts, generosity and refusal to allow me to talk shit about my own bread. Thanks Nan.  

S: You make a great rye sourdough.  Anything special about your sourdough starter? 

B&G: Nope, not really. It’s made with 100% whole grain flour and is what’s classified as a stiff starter, meaning that it’s only 65% hydrated. It’s a pain to work with, but it gives me the results I want relative to flavor and fermentation activity.

 S: Can you share some of the challenges of having a food business?

B&G: I’ll just start with this: a complete reconfiguration and thus collapse of life as you once knew it. Honestly, my friends in food warned me. They literally said, “don’t do it” and “it’s not worth it.” For me, the jury is still out. The last six months have contained some of the most rewarding and also the most destructive moments I have ever faced. Your relationships strain. You lose familiarity with your old friend sleep. You work 7 days a week for all the hours you’re awake, the first of which are well before dawn. The rest take place in a 300 square foot white box with no windows that happens to house a 525 degree heat-spewing machine. That overwhelming feeling you sometimes feel you now always feel. It’s constant. Your money is on the line. Other people’s money is on the line. Not to mention that feeling of inadequacy when your bread doesn’t come out exactly how you had envisioned. But holy hell, it’s still a hundred thousand times better than the decade I spent writing commercials, especially when the bread is beautiful.

 S: Working in food is hard.  The hours, the labor---what makes it worth it for you?  

B&G: There is great comfort in choosing what I view as an earnest path - I make things with my hands that people eat and enjoy. Simple things. Things with three ingredients that all come from the earth. I don’t try and convince them that it’s better than anything else. I just make it and hopefully they eat it and hopefully they like it. I like it. And that’s all that really matters.

 S: What's next for Bub & Grandma's?

B&G: I need to train a baker who can take my place a couple days a week so I can both sleep past 5AM for once and get to finding a location for my original concept – a breakfast and lunch spot. That and developing all sorts of new weird breadlings.

 S: Tell us about your favorite baking/cooking scar?

B&G: So far so good on the scar front. There’s one on the top of my forearm from reaching into the oven and not paying attention, but that’s pretty standard. I’m also 6’3” and hit my head on everything, but nothing permanent there. Last week was interesting. I live in Mt. Washington above a big canyon and have to carry my preferments down the 100 or so steps to the road every morning, pre-dawn. Last Thursday I missed one of those steps and spilled 8kg of poolish all over the place and scraped the crap out of both my ankles. I bled through my socks and had to make my ciabatta with straight dough. Blood, sweat and tears, as they say.  

Roast Potatoes For : Osso DTLA by SAEHEE CHO

Osso DTLA has been in the downtown arts district for a little under a year. Their fare can best be described as “elevated southern with eclectic influences.” Perhaps the prime example of this would be Osso’s hugely popular dish “Fried Chicken & Bubbles,” which is their cooked-to-order southern fried chicken and a bottle of sparkling wine. Other popular dishes include their Hamachi Crudo, Duck Mortadella, and Smoked Yellowtail Toast.

SOO N Foods collaborates with Osso to develop seasonal jams that are specific to their popular and ever changing market menu. Our most recent Osso Jam is made with organic market peaches and fresh thyme to compliment the rich and savory profile of Osso’s Froie Gros Torchon.

We recently sat down with Osso’s head chef Nick Montgomery to discuss some of his influences. 

SOO N: What was the inspiration for your foie dish? Why jam? 

Nick Montgomery: Foie lends itself well to sweeter garnishes, especially fruits. I wanted to serve it with a condiment that would balance the richness with acidity and compliment it with sweetness. Jam is the perfect candidate. Also, this preparation is served with bread, so it's almost like a toast with butter and jam kind of vibe.

S: What’s your favorite kind of jam? Or spread? And why?

NM: I love blackberry jam. It was very common at my house growing up to enjoy blackberry jam on some fresh baked biscuits and that memory has stuck with me. I really enjoy the tartness and flavor of blackberries.

S: What’s your favorite dish at OSSO and why?

NM: Definitely the fried chicken. Fried chicken is one of my favorite foods and has been for a while. I particularly enjoy the way we do it at Osso. We cook it in a giant cast iron skillet and make it fresh to order every time. It's time consuming, inefficient, and uncommon to see this technique in a restaurant setting, but I truly feel like it creates a unique and superior product.

S: You’re new to LA, what’s your favorite place in LA so far? Or favorite thing?

NM: My favorite place to eat in LA is Rustic Canyon. I really enjoy the way they utilize local produce, meat, and fish in interesting ways. They just do it right, without pretense, that's what I like most about them.

 

Jam Series : Mar / Summer 2015 by SAEHEE CHO

The second in our Summer Market Jam Series, Mar Jam is made with Yellow Peaches and Saffron. It's specifically the smell of this jam that makes me think of Mar---warm, sweet, distinctively aromatic.   Mar is all of these things.  I love the color too, the deep amber and the red saffron threads.  

Read below for a chat with Mar Peidro on her career inspiration, french fries, and "very dark chocolate".

Mar Jam is available through August and available from our pantry retail.  

 

SOO N: Mar, you are a fashion-jack-of-all-trades! You are a stylist but you also are a writer and specialize in brand strategy.  How did you get into your field and why did you choose fashion?

 

Mar: I got interested in fashion through Sex & the City...I know, what a cliché! Both my mom and my friend Anna, who was the most culturally advanced friend I had as a teenager, told me how much I reminded them of Carrie Bradshaw... and so I started watching. It introduced me to Vogue, New York City and Manolo's. Then I started looking for other books and magazines, schools to attend to in New York, and people that could show me little bits of the industry. 

 

S: What is your perfect snack?

 

M: Snacking is my way of life. I snack on everything. I am constantly hungry so I eat continuously. I really enjoy French fries, they make the best snack, appetizer, side dish, and even entrée, at all times of the day and night. 

 

S : Do you have a favorite way you like to eat Mar Jam?

 

M :Directly from the jar, with a tiny bit of salted ghee.

 

S: What's in your refrigerator, right now?  

 

M: Very dark chocolate only.

photos by Stella Berkofsky

styled by Mar Peidro

Becca + Justin's Wedding Dessert Table by SAEHEE CHO

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

SOO N's very first project was creating a dessert table for my friends Becca and Justin's wedding.  I was thrilled to contribute, in my small way, to their special day.  Their Joshua Tree wedding was one of the most memorable I've ever attended, despite a few unexpected weather-related obstacles.

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

As I write this I'm recalling Justin cracking jokes during his vows, Ani's father officiating the ceremony with a speech that left me both crying and laughing, a handful of people midnight dancing in the rain, and Becca walking down a make-shift aisle in all her flower-crown glory...

I love weddings, no doubt about it.  I mean, 150 people, all present to toast and celebrate a couple in love---it's incredible!

It felt to me, like the best-first SOO N project---an omen of good energy and things to come.  It was a project conceived out of love for people in love.  What could be better?

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

cake planning sketch

cake planning sketch

Read below for an interview with Becca Kinskey about her recent nuptials.

Becca Kinskey works as a Producer at Abominable Pictures, a comedy production company. Justin Becker is the EP/Creator of an as-of-yet untitled animated show at Warner Brothers Animation.  

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

photo credit-Evangeline Lane

SOO N: How did you and Justin meet?  

BECCA: The normal way - through friends. He and a bunch of his college friends had a live comedy show that one of them asked me to stage manage. We were all relatively new to LA and trying to figure out how to make our comedy careers happen. I think every single person involved in that show was at our wedding - its been an amazing community for me to have been adopted into.

Strawberry Almond Cake

Strawberry Almond Cake

S: For me, one of the most memorable moments of your wedding was when all your friends sang "Here Comes The Bride" in that tent after the rain started coming down.  Everyone was tight and huddled and a little wet but the energy in that space was pure love.  When you started coming down the aisle, everyone singing in unison, out of tune, was maybe the most beautiful wedding moment I have ever witnessed.

What were your feeling/thinking at that moment?  

B: Exactly what you've said - pure, uncomplicated love and luck. Getting rain and hail in Joshua Tree was a fun development in the first place, but seeing our friends and family not just roll with it but make it into such a raucous, fun experience for us was so stunning and humbling. I felt like I was walking into a 150-person hug by way of an all-ages show - it was so much more in line with what a wedding should be than anything we could have planned. And the fact that, two months later, our guests - like yourself - are still telling us that they felt the same energy we did in the moment - such luck to get to share an experience like that together.

Photo Credit-Evangeline Lane

Photo Credit-Evangeline Lane

S: What were some of the most memorable moments for you and Justin?

B: Gosh. It's true that the day can be such a blur. Simultaneously the longest & fastest day of our lives!

Everything from the moment it started raining became a little adventure in collective problem solving - all of our family & friends crowded into a tiny tent for the ceremony, dinner & toasts made everything so much more fun.

Our family & friends' toasts, which became crowd work in the round, were phenomenal.

The DJ took off without telling us and a few of our best friends filled in as Spotify DJs, while everyone else danced through the windstorm. Can't really get better than that.

The many family members who told us what a large & fun community of friends we have, and the many friends who told us how great our family is - the sense that everyone was genuinely enjoying themselves and each other was the best we could have asked for.

 

S: Weather was obviously an unexpected obstacle but you and Justin dealt with is so gracefully.  What advice would you give engaged couples for their wedding day?

B: You just have to have fun. Ya gotta! How can it be anything other than fun, when its all about love??

I heard a lot of variants of "things will mess up but it will be okay" when we were planning. I'm a TV producer so this wasn't really news to me, but especially for a wedding - the unexpected things are really where the joy derives. They are what make the day what it is - just like life and loving. So how can you not enjoy them? And enjoying those surprises together is the most crucial part. Until I got to meet up with him under that tent, I knew that wherever Justin was, he was also enjoying the new version of our celebration that was unfolding.

 

Photo Credit: Evangeline Lane

Photo Credit: Evangeline Lane

S: What were some challenges and highlights of planning your wedding?

B: It was surprisingly hard to keep it cheap. One of our shared values is (vague) thriftiness, but we'll also splurge if it’s going to make a party more fun. As a producer I'm used to finding corners to cut, but we were constantly surprised at how many expectations a wedding in 2015 has. Even though we were totally open to jettisoning things (like favors - who really cares?), there are so many "things" that it adds up quickly.

It was fun but also a little tough to strike that balance of planning something that felt like us without also feeling like we were knee-jerk kicking back at a "traditional" wedding. We didn't have any illusions about being super unique, but you also want to find something that does feel a little specific to you. I guess its sort of a post-Pinterest navel-gazey concern, but it felt real while we had it. We had a "no Mason jars" and "no arbitrary triangle motifs" rule and just went from there - ha!

One combined challenge & highlight was that we really wanted to create a space & place for people to enjoy being with us and each other. For us, that meant bringing people out to the desert who likely wouldn't have been there before without making it feel like too much of a trek. It meant finding a low key venue that people could linger at over a couple days, to connect without a hard in or out time. And it meant trying to pare back the "itinerary" of wedding events - first dances, cake cutting, etc - so that people could have a nice organic evening without having to go here to watch us do a thing, then go there to watch us do a different thing.

And the people who helped us throw this party were a huge highlight. Most were extremely talented friends -- like you!-- who leant us their specialty for the day, or who did these things for near cost. It was humbling that people really wanted to contribute, and it was a beautiful part of our journey to be able to articulate with close friends what we felt their contribution - dessert, photos, decor, invites & paper goods - would mean as part of the day.

And the vuvuzelas - so glad we got those!

Grapefruit Coconut Cake

Grapefruit Coconut Cake


Jam Series : Ani / summer 2015 by SAEHEE CHO

Ani and I first met at our Calarts MFA orientation.  We bonded over her really cool shoes and general first-day-of-school discomfort and I adored her immediately. Sometimes, with friends of the heart, you know without hesitation, that they'll resonate for the long run.

Since then, we've been writing collaborators, performance partners, workshop pals, co-hosts for our reading series: "The Unkindest Cut", and the occasional awkward date at various family/friend functions.  We dream big---some day we'll have a cottage by the sea and bake in the morning and then wash-off flour in the ocean and live out the rest of our old lady lives with too many dogs.

It was without question that Ani would be my first in the SOO N Jam Series.   Each month for my Jam Series, I'll be attempting to create a very personal interpretation of friends and family through fruit/sugar/acid.

Ani Jam is made of Strawberries, Balsamic Vinegar, and Black Pepper. I use Albion Strawberries from Sea Wind Farms in Orange County.  I love a strong acid note, especially in jams to cut through the sweetness.  With balsamic vinegar the acid note becomes more earthy rather than bright as the sugars in the balsamic cook down.  When thinking of what flavors would somehow represent Ani, I focused in on her gorgeous fiction.  Her work is equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, because for Ani, these things are necessary bedmates, they, together, make wholeness.  I tried to modestly mimic this contradiction by pairing a strong acid with strawberries, which are seasonal and perfect right now but also for me, represent a kind of ideal sweetness---straightforward and uncomplicated.

SOO N: Tell us about yourself! —like how you’re an extraordinary writer, and how you teach yoga, and how you write for short films, and how you make music with the band BRAAINZZ.

Let’s start there, even though we both know there’s more.

ANI: I spend most of my time teaching yoga and running in the mountains, but I also watch an obscene amount of cop shows and crime procedurals.  I write fiction that I think is funny, but other people think is sad.  I play in a band called BRAAINZZ, and while I think many of our songs are sad, they might actually be funny.  The most important thing on earth is my basset hound, Janeane-- go on, ask her.

S: You mentioned a recipe with Tequila for Ani Jam.  Please share!

A: In this order..

1. muddle a small handful of rasberries in a highball glass

2. add 2 teaspoons of Ani Jam, stir

3. throw in a couple of ice cubes

4. shot or shot point five of chile-infused Tequila *

5. fizzy water to taste

*Recipe Note: buy a bottle of Tequila, pour out a glass to make room for chiles--  place a handful of dried arbol chiles inside the bottle (you have to stuff them in there and then make sure they get submerged), let sit for a couple of hours.  Here's the thing-- those chiles infuse FAST, so I wouldn't recommend leaving them overnight.  Seriously, a few hours is enough! ALSO, when your drink is fizzing from the bubbles, DON'T INHALE because your nostrils will burn like hell.  OR, if you're congested, do inhale and get a nice cleansing effect.

S: You are a world famous snacker—between you and me, no chip bowl is safe.  Tell us about your favorite everyday snack.

A: I just want to be snacking all the time, so at any given moment, there is a bowl of almonds, popcorn, chocolate, or chips on my desk.  But really if I had to choose a last-meal caliber snack, it would have to be french fries.

S: You’re vegan, and in general very conscious of what you put into your body.  Can you tell us more about the importance of food to you and your lifestyle?

A: I am a vegan for a variety of reasons, some pertaining to my health and some pertaining to my beliefs.  However, I have mad respect for those who responsibly buy, cook, and digest animals (I mean that last part, my body would literally implode if I ate a steak).  I rarely drink or eat sweets, but I don't view them as "bad," because I think that sets up a weird binary in which "good for you" means guilt-free, and "bad" equals regret.  If I'm having a cocktail or a slice of cake, it's not because I'm "being bad," or "cheating," it's because I chose to treat myself.

SOO N(순): Adj.:Gentle, Soft; Noun: Sprout by SAEHEE CHO

Grandfather in an American-style diner, in Japan

I have a real thing for slow-braising meat, for sauces that thicken only with hours of coddling, for peeling a kumquat clean, just right.

I turn words in my head, verbs like macerate, caramelize, and temper.  I think of heavy fruit giving over its sugars, of egg yolk going creamy into a sauce, of vanilla bean ribboning loose in batter.

My mother says she feels full from just watching her loved ones eat.

 

I want to feel full all the time.

Family Picnic

Family Picnic