The King’s Roost is a tiny shop outfitted like a survivalist’s root cellar. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are filled with jars of heirloom grains, bread baskets, how-to books and supplies for making kombucha, cheese, tofu, soap, candles and beer. One long table holds small mills that you can buy and take home, as well as a larger mill where you can have grain milled while you wait. There’s a small kitchen in the back, with ovens for bread-baking.
This is Roe Sie’s world, and it’s not at some corn-belt, tornado-prone farm — where the root cellars I grew up with were — but in the back of a parking lot off Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.
When Sie relocated from Florida to Los Feliz with his wife, a film director, he decided to leave behind his gig as a vice president of compensation and benefits at a big firm to stay at home with their kids and nurture some nascent hobbies, including raising fish and chickens, beekeeping and baking bread.
“I didn’t have room for a donkey and a millstone,” said Sie on a recent Saturday morning about his efforts to mill flour for that bread, as folks began arriving at his shop for a soap-making class.
In late 2014, he decided to open a store, and “put it all in one place.” (The first iteration of the King’s Roost opened on Fountain Avenue; it has since moved into its current location.)
Backyard chickens were Roe’s DIY gateway drug, so he still sells chicken feed, but his focus has increasingly become sourdough bread-baking and the grain milling that supports it. (Flour that’s just been milled is fresh, earthy and remarkably flavorful.) To that end, he holds bread classes on the weekends — the store is closed during the week — and offers a number of sizes of Austrian-made, wooden KoMo table-top grain mills.
Among the jars of grain on the shelves are varieties of heirloom rye, Sonora and Red Fife wheats, Patwin hard white wheat, emmer, einkorn, Khorasan wheat, amaranth, buckwheat and nixtamalized corn, as well as Wit Wolkering and Chiddam Blanc wheats from Mai Nguyen, known as Farmer Mai, in Sonoma County. Sie also has a jar of Farmer Mai’s Fire Blend, a blend of wheats that she planted after the Tubbs Fire burned her fields in 2017.
Milling flour is not a quiet activity, so recently Sie found a sound-proof box (“I bought it off some engineer in Long Beach”) and installed his large mill inside of it. As my bag of Fire Blend was being ground inside the muffling box, the whole contraption about the size of a beer fridge, Sie poured a scoop of rye from Weiser Family Farms in Tehachapi into one of the smaller mills. The sound was like distant traffic.
“I’ve just been trying to convert people to home-milling,” Sie said, “15 people at a time.”