So, Ma Nishma (what’s up)?
A/S/L and what your first ever AIM name?
34/F/Los Angeles (Los Feliz). My first AIM name was created back in ancient times, circa 1995, and I honestly can’t remember (but it likely invoked some embarrassing aspect of nature or plant life.)
What was the first thing you said aloud this morning?
3 things you always carry with you?
Sunscreen, pen, reusable water bottle.
What’s your favorite place in LA, and why?
The Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market. One of my favorite things about living in California is all of the incredible produce that is grown here. Going to the market keeps me connected to the seasons and their subtle changes, to new things in food, and to amazingly talented farmers. Of course, there’s also all the great produce to take home. My week doesn’t feel complete without going there.
How does the identity of your neighborhood tie into who you are?
I’ve been living in Los Feliz for over 6 years, and I feel really connected to this part of town. It has changed quite a bit since I first moved here, and I’m not sure that it has a fixed identity… but I love it for its hills, for the ease of walking around to all kinds of shops and restaurants, for Griffith Park, for running into friends, for knowing many of my neighbors, and for somehow feeling simultaneously like I live in both a quiet family neighborhood and a bustling energetic city filled with creative folks.
Who’s your favorite Angeleno, living or dead, real or fictional?
Leonard Cohen. He’s originally Canadian, but I think he’s lived here long enough to be considered an Angeleno. He’s an artistic hero for me.
You know you’re from/live in LA when…
you crave salad.
you crave salad.
Where was the best meal you’ve eaten in LA and what did you have?
In 2014-2015, there was a weekly pop-up restaurant called Porridge and Puffs that took place in the Farmers Kitchen as part of the Field Trip residency. They had a menu focused on savory rice porridge, accompanied with seasonal vegetable offerings. Even if you’ve had amazing congee, Porridge and Puffs was doing something different with their Asian-inspired comfort food. They served us the kind of meal where the food is so good it silences you. The limited conversation revolved around each surprising bite, and it would have been criminal not to share plates. Chef Phan worked in an open kitchen, clearly taking joy and pride in her work; that joy permeated into the staff, onto the plate, and made the food that much more enjoyable. All of the food there was excellent, but the stand-out dish for me was an umami bomb of meltingly tender short rib, topped with tart fermented grassy mustard greens, pickled rich egg, fresh cilantro and scallions, and crispy sweet onion. We still fondly reminisce about that meal over a year later, and we were heartbroken when the residency ended. But there’s good news! It looks like this June Porridge and Puffs is going to be part of the launch of downtown’s Smorgasburg LA.
Meals vs snacks?
Meals – preferably lengthy and outdoors.
3 people you’d invite to your fantasy dinner party?
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
– Yotam Ottolenghi,
– Dr. Cornel West,
And if one of them can’t make it,
– Draymond Green
What’s your party trick?
Being able to name all of the members of the WuTang clan.
What was your Bar/Bat Mitzvah theme?
Something horribly nautical, like “Under the Sea.”
You become the next big Jewish rapper, what’s your rap name?
Favorite Jewish holiday?
What do you wish you knew about Jewish culture?
There’s so much more I want to know about the food and the people making it. And also, what defines a dish as Jewish?
What defines Jewish culture for you?
Recently, a rabbi told me that one of the definitions of “mitzvah” is connection; stemming from the Aramaic word Tzavta,which means to join, attach or connection. For me, Jewish culture is about just that. Connection through community and service, through shared food, through shared music – the things that make us feel rooted to something and each other.
Do you have a favorite Jewish memory?
Lighting the menorah and eating latkes at my grandparents’ table.
A past trend that you wish would come back?
Curly parsley. I like its gravitas and oomph in appearance; it’s a little more delicate than the equally delicious flat-leaf kind. I have false nostalgia for the food styling of the 50’s and 60’s; there was lots of curly parsley and tomato roses happening on the plates of yore.
If you were to invent anything what would it be, and why?
Teleportation. I’m always wishing for an easier way to visit far away family and friends, and travel to more places.
Most proud moment?
Quitting my Hollywood assistant gig to pursue a career making food for a living.
Your dream project?
Publishing my first solo cookbook.
“Nosh & Trinken” (Sonya’s Recommendations)
Eat: Pine & Crane in Sunset Junction (Taiwanese, dan dan noodles!) or Nightmarket Song (Thai, explosion of flavor in every dish).
Snack: Scoops on Heliotrope (ice cream like nowhere else).
Drink: Morning – Proof in Atwater (latté and a croissant), Afternoon – Naturewell in Silverlake (kale coconut smoothie), Night – Barbrix in Silverlake (champagne and french fries).
Recs to do in the city:
– Take the train from downtown to the beach! That is easily my favorite new thing about living in Los Angeles.
– I’m a big fan of having a late afternoon hang or picnic at the Silverlake meadow or Elysian park.
– And my favorite shop in all of LA is Cookbook in Echo park. I can’t believe how good and thoughtfully chosen their products are, and their staff is always so knowledgeable. If you need a source for incredible beans and grains, good cheese, excellent bread, and farmer’s market produce (when you can’t make it tothe market) then go there.