Kitchen Mouse officially began in the spring of 2012 as a small catering operation out of my home. It quickly grew, and I employed the help of friends, family--really anyone available. By the time fall rolled around, I was searching for a much needed storefront and commercial kitchen to expand into. When I saw 5904 Figueroa, a defunct check-cashing operation that would soon be our Highland Park home, I was instantly drawn to it. The high ceilings and long narrow shape brought me back to the New York City cafes of my childhood.
Growing up in Westchester County, just north of Manhattan, I was exposed early and often to good food. My parents were both serious home cooks; our kitchen had a garland range, professional convection ovens, and a salamander. I imitated what I saw, playing “cooking show” and making cheese souffles out of “The Joy of Cooking.” My parents owned a recording studio in Hell’s Kitchen, and I grew up eating at iconic New York restaurants like Shopsin’s and marveling at all the “restaurants with high ceilings,” as I used to call them. The strongest memories I have are tied to meals, and I’m happiest when I’m eating and cooking.
My mom was my favorite person to eat and cook with, and in 2008 she passed away suddenly. She was a harsh food critic, but when she loved something, she loved it. When she recommended a restaurant or dish, you knew it was going to be fantastic. Before she died, she told me about “the best pizza she’d ever had,” at a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, called “al Forno.” It took me 8 years, but when I finally made it there, it was indeed the best pizza I had ever had-and I’d spent a summer in Italy.
After I lost my Mom, I began chasing all the foods and flavors of my childhood and wound up indulging my childhood fantasy of becoming a chef. I went to Le Cordon Bleu to be trained in traditional French technique. And when I spent my “externship” working outside of Rome, I ate everything in sight.
Six months later, back in the US, it was 2012 and I got my first customer as “Kitchen Mouse.” I decided then, to create more plant based, but deeply satisfying and delicious food. Fast forward to today, Kitchen Mouse has become the home of our bustling kitchen and a place for people to enjoy and share experiences over food, which makes me immensely proud.