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Written by Lilli Sherman
Photographed by DYLAN + JENI
For many chefs, the dream is to one day open a place of your own. This week, chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson are about to unleash their falafel shop,Madcapra, on the citizens of Los Angeles. The co-chefs didn’t go from their previous gig at Brooklyn’s Glasserie to restaurateurs overnight, though. In the midst of the restaurant opening process, in March, we spent the day with the duo to learn what it’s like being off the line, and just what it takes to make a restaurant dream a reality.
While their falafel shop at Grand Central Market is still under construction, Kramer and Hymanson start the day early with emails at Kramer's Koreatown home. Both women agree that the heavy computer-time has been an adjustment. "I probably haven't spent this much time on a computer since I was a sophomore in college," says Hymanson. Kramer share the sentiment: "There's also so much less time with people. I'm definitely learning to harness quiet in a new way."
The chefs head to the farmers' market. Among their recent discoveries: Yosemite Gold tangerines. "They are by far the most delicious citrus either of us has ever eaten," says Kramer. "They also cost a dollar, so they are a serious treat."
Honing their skills on the East Coast with a sometimes limited roster of available produce has allowed Kramer and Hymanson to utilize California's bounty with a fresh perspective.
After scoping out the farmers' market and collecting produce for this afternoon’s recipe testing, it's time to bring the newly arrived West Elm stools from Kramer's home to the Madcapra storage unit below Grand Central Market. They hunted for the perfect stools and found these ones on eBay.
With tile and signage arriving over the next two weeks, the chefs eagerly await the beautification process. Today, Kramer meets with the contractors to discuss wood and tiling options and negotiate the timeline for opening.
"There are a lot of great offerings in Grand Central Market, we are so happy to be a part of the community here," says Kramer. "As people who are new to L.A., it's great to be immediately welcomed and be part of a group that is also doing really exciting things with food."
"Getting to know the people in the L.A. restaurant industry has been awesome. We've hosted collaborative dinners with Jon [Shook] and Vinny [Dotolo] and appreciate their tips on purveyors and kitchenware. Dining at each other's restaurants brings endless inspiration." Like today, having lunch at Sqirl with [chef-owner] Jessica [Koslow].
"People are starting to move to L.A. from all over and are bringing a fresh perspective," says Koslow. Kramer and Hymanson are definitely a part of that shift." The three chefs note that lower rents have made it possible for them to focus on produce and other elements that might otherwise take a backseat in a NYC financial climate.
Back at the Kramer HQ, the chefs get ready to re-test a beet wrap recipe.
Here the chefs are working with feta, pomegranate molasses, pickled peppers, marinated beets, grilled broccoli with pumpkin seed, sesame leaf, and flatbread.
The chefs work in tandem to create the new dish for the May opening. Kramer and Hymanson had intended for Madcapra to open earlier this year, and at that time, they had finalized a sweet-potato wrap for the menu. However, with opening day pushed back several weeks, they decided to change the sweet potato to beets and create a new wrap to fit with the seasonal offerings.
Can we move to Los Angeles, too? Madcapra opens May 6.
All photos by Dylan + Jeni
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