Sqirl chef got start in Atlanta, back in town Saturday

sqirl

 

Read this cookbook: “Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking” by Jessica Koslow (Abrams, $45)

By Wendell Brock

It may be premature to call Jessica Koslow the most exciting California chef since Alice Waters. Then again, it might not be.

Inspired by the bountiful fruit of California, Koslow opened Los Angeles’ uber-hip Sqirl as a jam joint in 2011. Today, the breakfast-and-lunch spot that turned humble toast into a “Thing” is where the beautiful people flock to much on Koslow’s fat slabs of burnt brioche slathered with ricotta and jam; her sorrel-pesto rice bowls; and malva pudding cakes.

As evidenced by this beautifully designed and photographed book (Todd Selby, eat your heart out), Koslow’s food is every bit as delectable as her clientele.

While salads and vegetables are a big part of her vocabulary, meat is also allowed: There are recipes here for pozole, rabbit, short ribs, lamb merguez and cured bacon.

And while Koslow seems synonymous with the West Coast, it turns out that she got her start right here in The ATL.

After earning a master’s in communications from Georgetown University in 2005, she moved to Atlanta. And after a compass-shifting meal at Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia, she jotted off an “embarrassing” (I’m guessing that means “fawning”) email to the Atlanta icon, and ended up landing a job on Quatrano’s pastry team. (Dreams can come true, y’all.)

Koslow later cooked at Quinones (now Little Bacch), Star Provisions and Bacchanalia. After landing a job in New York, she zigzagged back to town to work for Quatrano, this time at the late meat-centric Abattoir.

This book, then, is a testament to the breadth and depth of Atlanta’s culinary family tree, which is now bearing impeccable fruit in other climes. Among all the recipes for bright, sexy food are gorgeous images of lush cornfields and orange orchards; still lifes with the makings of strawberry-rose-geranium jam (among other preserves); instructions for brown-rice horchata and toast many ways.

Hands down, “Everything I Want to Eat” is the most fashionable cookbook of the year. Sign me: Hopelessly smitten.

Book signing and dinner with the chef: Koslow signs books Dec. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Star Provisions. At 6:30 p.m., she’ll prepare a multicourse dinner at Little Bacch with Bacchanalia Executive Chef Joe Schafer and sous chef Evelyn Ling. $75 includes dinner and copy of the cookbook. For reservations:  404.365.0410 ext. 22.

Sqirl brunch pop-up at Empire State South: Koslow joins chef Josh Hopkins in the kitchen at Empire State South on Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The duo will prepare crowd-pleasing brunch dishes served at Sqirl and Empire State South. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet Koslow and purchase a copy of the cookbook.

 

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