THE COSMIC CHEFS.
Their meeting may have been fated, but don't refer to their food as feminine.
Recently named purveyor of LA’s most essential dish, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson’s Kismet is reimagining traditional Mediterranean flavors with its signature jeweled crispy rice served golden brown with a gooey yolk. But it wasn’t always a family affair for the co-owners of the family-style establishment. The co-workers turned competitors turned collaborators first met back in Brooklyn before moving to Los Angeles to upend its burgeoning restaurant scene. On a mission to create a dining experience that’s as sustainable as it is delicious, what the Sara(h)s have whipped up is nothing short of...fate.
More from both women below.
Names: Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson
Business Instagram Handle: @kismetlosangeles
Where do your drive and passion come from?
Drive and passion seem like pretty inherent qualities for both us, lucky for us. But being responsible business owners motivates us on a daily basis. We always strive to create sustainable workplaces for ourselves and our employees.
Sara, you were the star of Mamma Mia at 17. After two years you realized it wasn't the road for you. What do you have to say to our audience about switching careers?
I had worked my whole young life to be a performer, and when I left the industry, I was still so young. I wasn't entirely sure what it was, but something essential was missing for me. Looking back, I think that it was hard to feel as if I had control over my own career trajectory. I think if I'd stuck it out, I would have eventually felt differently, but as much as I loved performing, I'm glad that I've taken a path where I can create in multiple ways - not just menus and flavors, but also spaces and jobs for other people.
It was not love at first business sight for you both. At what point did you know you could work well as business partners?
Our initial meeting was in circumstances that didn't present partnership as an option, or even a thought. But as soon as we did start working together, at first not as partners, it became very clear that there was undeniable potential there.
What about your personalities works really well together?
We're both hard-working, to a fault, so resentment never comes into the picture. If anything, we both constantly feel as if we could always be doing more. (Jewish guilt?) Also, we tend to balance each other nicely. Sarah is more details-oriented while Sara tends to see bigger picture. This kind of complementary divide has really helped us achieve something pretty symbiotic.
What's the through-line in both of your restaurants?
They're both Middle Eastern-inspired in theme, but very much rooted in local Southern California produce. Our entire ethos rests in responsible sourcing and creating positive work environments.
What are your respective hopes when someone leaves either of your restaurants?
We hope that when a customer leaves one of our restaurants that they feel satisfied by more than just the food. We want them to feel nourished by the warmth and care of the experience, as well as by the meal itself.
What are your biggest pet peeves?
A huge pet peeve - when people refer to our food as "feminine." It feels limiting and like a superficial way to describe what we do merely because we're women.
What are your biggest fears about running a business?
Failing. Being wrongly sued. Employees getting badly injured. Running a business, particularly one of this nature, is incredibly risky.
What's something you'd like people to know about your jobs that they probably don’t?
We think that people don't fully understand the scope of what being a chef/owner entails. We are responsible for so much beyond the kitchen (as is the case for many of our peers) that cooking is just a fraction of what we do on a daily basis.
IYO-- How can we stay original when we are so saturated by other people's work?
We are less concerned with being original than being positive members of a community. We're excited by the work of our peers and hope that we are looked at similarly.
What about each of your careers makes you feel the most complete?
The positive feedback from our employees. We've had a number of people express how the industry was pushing them out and their experience working with us has inspired them to keep at it. We can't say how satisfying it is for us to know that.
If you each respectively had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?
Sara: Some combo of Oprah and Alice Waters, because they're both incredibly inspiring, with such positive, empowering messaging. Oprah is amazing in every way, but I so love that she's incredibly supportive of other women.
At what point in your careers did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the women you are today?
Sarah: It was a period of slow growth, but becoming a business owner made me realize that what I do does have an impact on other people's lives.
Sara: I was wavering about the direction of my career when I was given the opportunity to run my own kitchen, at Glasserie in 2013. It was a defining moment in that I took the leap and didn't really allow myself the option to look back.
What's the best advice you've each ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?
Sarah: My mom, when I was just out of college and stressed about leaving a job, she said to me, "Look, Sarah, you get one job and you learn from it. You get another job and you learn from it." It's stuck with me and imbued me with a sense of calm about moving forward.
Sara: Real talk, this business (and I imagine all businesses) is about relationships. Community and relationships to other people are everything. A chef once told me to chill out, in relation to keeping my working relationships healthy, and it's been something I've remembered ever since. Pick your battles.
A chef once told me to chill out, in relation to keeping my working relationships healthy, and it's been something I've remembered ever since. Pick your battles.
When you hit a big bump in the road, how do you find a new road or a detour?
It's all about perspective. We take some steps back and allow ourselves to dream big without criticizing based on our previous failures.
What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?
Sara: Well, I've got quite a repertoire. Ha. I do love a power ballad. Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," for example.
Sarah: Chaka Khan, "Ain't Nobody."
Photo Credit: @davisfactor