CORK & RIND’S CREATOR IS ONE FASHIONABLE FOODIE
Story by Erin Brittain
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
Five minutes into my telephone conversation with Kat Odell, Editor of Eater LA, and I immediately regret making the call on an empty stomach. Kat talks about food with an enthusiasm that makes her passion for cooking and eating contagious. I salivated through her descriptions of a culinary upbringing that consisted of school lunches containing her father’s latest exploration in global cuisine (Turkish and Italian cuisine filled the lunchbox, not baloney sandwiches), learning to cook with her grandma at the age of five, and food memories of dinners made from ingredients grown in the family garden. Fresh tomato basil sauce, anyone?
So how did Kat transform her passion into a career? A mix of self-education, an exceptional amount of determination and an entrepreneurial spirit were all a part of the process. Originally from New York, Kat paid attention to what was going on around her, reading as much as she could about the city’s food scene, the major players and the major restaurants. As she puts it, “I just loved that whole world so much that just on my own accord, I would read a lot.” Her list generally included books by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and The New York Time’s Food section.
Her first professional experience with food was a granola business she began in high school that she sold out of a local gourmet food store, and samples of which were later included with her college acceptance essays. After graduation, Kat began working for Manhattan restauranteur Michael O’Keeffe; the experience taught her that while she loved food, she belonged in a different field, which led her to Bon Appetit magazine, and the beginning of her life as an L.A. resident.
In 2007 Kat began her blog, Cork & Rind, which she describes as, “A compilation of dining experiences. Dining out and cooking at home.” The blog also includes a few insider tips, such as details on a health food store with, “This insane fro-yo” made from coconut water, dates and almonds. Although Kat began writing without a clear idea of what she wanted her blog to achieve, she credits Cork & Rind as one of the major factors that helped her score the job as Editor of Eater LA. Kat’s job allows her to completely immerse herself in the exceptional food and restaurant culture that is growing in L.A. “For me,” she says, “chefs are celebrities… I get to meet all these really creative, really talented people in the food world.”
As much as she adores food, Kat’s second love is fashion and she describes her favourite stores with the same excitement she uses to describe her beloved restaurants and farmer’s markets. Upon finding out that there is no Intermix in Toronto, her reaction was, “It’s this really amazing, amazing, epic store that you have to have there,” and after a thorough ‘review’ of the website, I can confirm that while we may be without, the store does ship to Canada.
But wait, a stylish girl who loves food and knows how to cook? Didn’t Sex and the City teach us that this never happens? When I asked Kat about the stereotype she pointed out that, “Now more than ever there’s an interest in food and eating healthfully…food is in.”
Considering Kat’s extensive knowledge of where to eat and shop in L.A., I had to ask for a list of her favourites. For dining out Kat says, “I am absolutely obsessed with the San Gabriel Valley,” which she claims is home to, “the most amazing, amazing, amazing” Chinese restaurants. For shopping, her top boutiques include Intermix (of course) on Robertson, Milk and Hillary Rush on Third Street, Planet Blue on Main Street, and the shops along Montana in Santa Monica.
So what’s next for the woman who already seems to be doing it all? In addition to continuing her role at Eater, Kat has been hired as the Editor-in-Chief for the new site Taste of the Times, Food Editor for the site LA Canvas, and she is also in talks to create and host an on-line cooking show. The ultimate dream, however, is to host her own cooking show on T.V. “I’m a really big proponent of eating seasonally and supporting local farmers,” Kat says, and she would ideally want the focus of the show to be upon cooking with local, seasonal ingredients. With the combination of her passion and a population’s growing interest in gastronomy, something makes me think we’ll be seeing her on our sets very soon.