5 Questions for Jessica Koslow

Jessica Koslow is founder of the L.A. preserves company Sqirl and just opened a cafe in her production space on the edge of Silver Lake. In addition to making jams, marmalades, chutneys and fruit butters, Koslow is overseeing the Virgil Avenue breakfast-and-lunch spot, turning out dishes such as brioche toast with greens, tomatillo, lacto-fermented hot sauce and fried egg; applewood-grilled sardines with fennel, beets, jicama and arugula; and kabocha with lambs quarters, romanesco and Baserri sheep cheese. And there’s no shortage of jams: How about Moro blood orange and vanilla bean, wild blueberry and tarragon, or Mission fig with Mourvèdre?

What’s coming up next on your menu? Spiny lobster lightly grilled over binchotan [Japanese charcoal].

Latest ingredient obsession? Jimmy Nardello peppers from Windrose Farm. They’re in our dishes raw and fermented. Fruity, sweet, a little kick in the seeds — they’re fantastic.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? My beautiful copper jam pans.

The last cookbook you read — and what inspired you to pick it up? “Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry.” Edward Behr wrote about it in the Art of Eating earlier in the year; however, it was not available for sale directly in the U.S. until recently.

What chefs have most influenced you? Victor Arguinzoniz of Asador Etxebarri and Hiro Urasawa of Urasawa. Letting the ingredients shine through with the softest of touches, while still imparting a strong point of view as a cook, is a challenge and a skill. Arguinzoniz and Urasawa are champions of this.


Sqirl, 720 N. Virgil Ave., No. 4, L.A., (213) 394-6526,


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