Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson are the formidable duo behind the well loved neighborhood restaurant, Kismet, in Los Feliz, a community in the east side of Los Angeles. Sara and Sarah got their start as chefs in good ‘ol New York before heading west and setting up shop, first with Madcapra in Grand Central Market in downtown LA, and then with Kismet in Los Feliz.
They were kind enough to let us tag along with them for a rare afternoon off where, guess what, they still cooked! But this time it was a leisurely lunch for friends at Sara’s house in Echo Park with produce from their all-time favorite Los Angeles grocery store, Cookbook, and Sara Kramer’s backyard garden!
The lush, natural green backdrop provided the perfect complement to our thoughtfully curated meal. As fresh ingredients took over the tabletops, the duo clicked into preparation mode—and it was made clear, they are a team. They share a powerful vision for cooking, dedicated work ethics and laid-back, yet confident personalities. That evening, in the spirit of California ease, the girls dressed in their favorite pieces from Vince’s pre-fall collection — an effortlessly cool style mirrored in Kismet’s sophisticated, yet causal aesthetic. Over delicious bites and lively banter, the relaxed evening produced some serious eats — we would expect nothing less from these two chefs!
Kismet, your restaurant in Los Feliz, is self described as a casual all-day restaurant that re-imagines Mideast flavors for current-day California. What about the flavors of Middle Eastern food inspires you? Do you remember your first experience / taste of Middle Eastern spices and flavors?
Sarah (in Ribbed Crew): I don’t remember my first experiences with middle eastern spices and flavor. I grew up a strict vegetarian in Chicago. Middle eastern restaurants and supermarkets are some of the first places that I went to find healthful and delicious meals. But, I engaged with it much more seriously after working with Sara. I love the use of spices and herbs, tangy fruit, molasses and nuts!
Sara (in Micro Floral Utility Dress): The food at Kismet definitely takes flavor cues from the various cuisines of the Middle East. I love how bright and diverse the cuisine is, and I like being able to be flexible with it.
What is it that you love and trust about buying food and produce from Cookbook? Are there specific things you look for when buying from a grocer?
Sarah: Cookbook is the best grocery store in LA! I truly trust that every product in that shop is excellent, delicious, and sustainably sourced which is what I look for in a grocery store. I also know that the people that work there are taken care which is incredibly important.
Sara: Cookbook is around the corner from me, luckily! The selection is limited, but it has practically everything you need, and it’s always impeccably sourced.
You hail from Chicago and New York respectively but now call Los Angeles home. What have you found that you love about the community and creative culture in Los Angeles? How is it different from the east coast?
Sarah: There are so many things that I love about Los Angeles and the community that I have found within it. I love how strange and diverse it is. There are so many different ways that one can live in LA. It is a totally unknowable place and I feel like I’m constantly meeting new people who are engaging with the city in different ways. I try not to compare it to New York/Chicago/ the east coast because what it offers is so different.
Sara: Los Angeles is always surprising me. I think it gets cast, mistakenly so, as a relaxed place where people don’t have drive. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
What’s your favorite thing about the other Sara(h)? How do your strengths play together to form such a formidable duo?
Sarah: Sara is an incredible partner. She is fiercely intelligent, hardworking, intentioned and thoughtful. She is very good at seeing the big picture while remaining in the present. I can always trust that she has both of our best interests in mind. We over communicate about most things which while laborious, ensures that we are always on the same page and have together talked through every issue and decision.
Sara: Sarah has a huge heart. She cares so deeply for the people around her, and she brings that to her work and our partnership. She brings so much joy to any space.
When cooking for friends how do you like to think of the menu? Are there go-to dishes you rely on or do you like to test out new dishes on your friends to get feedback?
Sarah: I generally go to the farmers market, get what looks delicious and just throw it together without much planning! I also like to cook things that I wouldn’t make at kismet- I often cook Chinese, Indian, or Vietnamese food.
Sara: Honestly, cooking for friends is rarely too planned on my part. I usually just kind of go with whatever I’m feeling like based on what’s available and what I’m in the mood for. I like the freedom of just rolling with it.
Biggest tip or secret for a successful dinner party?
Sarah: Have lots of snacks and beverages to start and then too much food.
Sara: Have as much ready in advance, including setting out plates and glasses, etc. It helps to get those things out of the way, so you can focus on spending time with your people.
When did you fall in love with food?
Sarah: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love it!
Sara: From birth?
Three things that can always be found in your fridge?
Sarah: Pickles of all kinds, chili condiments, greens
Sara: Yogurt. Bottles of wine. Something spicy.