I was born near Sunset and Vermont in the heart of Hollywood, California. Even though I have lived here my whole life, except a few years in New York City, I have traveled to many countries. Traveling has always been a big part of my life and as a child my parents took me everywhere. Years on tour with my dad, I got to see a lot of different cultures at an early age and in these travels came exposure to many kinds of food. My parents love food and actually everyone in my family is an amazing cook. Early on I learned that food and cooking were a major part of what held my family together and it was the one thing that we all had in common, cooking together every night. My mom gave me my first knife when I was five and by eleven I was cooking entire meals for everyone.
In addition to my worldly exposure through traveling, my parents themselves came from very different backgrounds. My father is a New York Jew, his roots going back to Romania and Austria, and my mother’s family is from Japan. This made for an early exposure to their cultures and regional cuisines. My maternal grandfather first came to this country at the age of twelve with his father, to work and save money to take back to Japan and his first job was working as a cook for the milling companies in Washington State. It is there that he met my grandmother and soon married her before they moved to East Los Angeles in the early 30’s. Shortly thereafter my grandfather and his father had won the lottery and with the winnings my great grandfather took his half and moved back to Japan. My grandfather took his money and bought three produce stores in Downtown L.A. Long story short, my grandfather was an amazing cook and I can remember as a child sitting on a bar stool in his kitchen, hand-fanning huge bowls of rice to make it cool enough for preparing sushi. I was always eager to help him cook and I used to fantasize that he was Mister Miyagi, teaching me the skills of cooking instead of those of karate. He was magical to me as a kid. But sadly when I was twelve he passed away and with him, so did my family’s recipes.
After graduating college with a BA in film editing my parents asked me what I wanted as a graduation gift. I quickly replied “sushi school”. For years I had complained to my mom that nobody in our family ever made Japanese food and I missed all of my grandfather’s cooking. On special occasions he would make sushi, but what I really missed was all the country home-cooking that he remembered from his own childhood.
I went into sushi school thinking I would learn some traditional Japanese cooking and then go back into editing, which I did for a few years, but then one day, left my office, walked into a Japanese restaurant and asked for a job. The head chef misunderstood what I had said about my experience, which was none, and hired me to begin work there the next day. We joke around about it now, but he didn’t find out the truth about my experience until a year after I had been working there. I guess you can say I was a natural. I loved it. Six nights a week I would stay up all night drinking with the other chefs until 4 am, then head down to the markets to pick the fish to be served that night at the restaurant. I remember Nobu Matsuhisa standing next to me fighting for the same loin of tuna. It was an unforgettable experience and I will always cherish my seven years as a sushi chef.
My background in Japanese cuisine has taught me that in order to prepare the best dishes you must be precise in the freshness and seasoning of every single ingredient. With most catering, the food has to be prepared days ahead of time and this concept never felt right to me, turning me off to the notion of “pre-prepared” food. So my resolution to this… a year ago I began my own business with the objective of only cooking with the freshest and highest quality of ingredients. My relationships with small food purveyors and wineries are especially important to me in my quest to know exactly what goes into everything I serve.
At Paper Palate we understand the stress that a host goes through when throwing a party and our goal is to allow you, the host, to enjoy the company of your guests without having all the pressures of the evening. I want you to sit down to my dinners and be transported by entire experience. Our mission is to create a perfect party with our wide array of food, home-infused elixirs, fine wine, décor and music. I wholly believe that food and the act of eating is an experience to be savored and enjoyed, and only then will it become a part of your cherished memories.
Each one of my recipes is from the heart. Every dish is delicious and truly homemade, and many of our vegetables come from my own organic garden. Paper Palate is an experience that will convince you that food truly is a form of art.
I hope we will get to meet soon so I can cook for you and show you how we do it Paper Palate way.