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5 Questions for Karen Hatfield

August 27, 2012|By Betty Hallock
  • Karen Hatfield with her husband, Quinn Hatfield, of Hatfield's restaurant and the Sycamore Kitchen.
Karen Hatfield with her husband, Quinn Hatfield, of Hatfield's restaurant… (Dylan and Jeni Photography )

Karen Hatfield is one half of the chef-couple behind Hatfield's restaurant and the recently opened Sycamore Kitchen. She's the sweet side, and her husband, Quinn Hatfield, is the savory side. At Sycamore Kitchen, Karen Hatfield's making everything you'd want from a neighborhood bakery, such as sticky pecan rolls, buttery scones and the Breton caramelized-puff-pastry wonder called kouign amann. 

What’s coming up next on your menu? At the Sycamore Kitchen, we are currently testing dozens of things, from different sausages to curing our own ham to working on different breads, like whole wheat olive, and condiments, like tomatillo mustard and apricot-orange marmalade. We have a lot coming up at Hatfield’s as well ... plum and mascarpone mille-feuille and a chocolate hazelnut puffed rice bar.

Latest ingredient obsession? I’ve been experimenting a lot with alternative flours for baking: buckwheat, barley, rice and rye flour being some of my favorites. They can really add another layer of complexity to baked goods.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? I have three: BLD for the ricotta pancakes, Drago Centro for the pappardelle, and Neveux Artisan Creamery for the crème fraiche ice cream.

The last cookbook you read — and what inspired you to pick it up? Our dear friend Mitchell Rosenthal wrote a beautiful book last year called "Cooking My Way Back Home." Mitch and his wife tested all the recipes in their home kitchen. It was a labor of love and it shows. The images are amazing!

What chef has most influenced you? Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Claudia Fleming, equally. There was something about Claudia’s sensibility that really resonated with me. I think we had similar palates, and, after all these years, her mentoring continues to influence my cooking style. Jean-Georges was just an all-around master: He had such vision, drive and integrity — and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the restaurateur-chef I am today if our paths had not crossed. 

Hatfield's, 6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 935-2977, www.hatfieldsrestaurant.com. The Sycamore Kitchen, 143 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0151, www.thesycamorekitchen.com

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