WHAT WE’RE ABOUT
As longtime food writers and editors, we (Emily Fiffer & Heather Sperling) ate at/documented/thought critically about restaurants for nearly a decade each before deciding to roll up our sleeves and open our own. We opened Botanica in 2017 as a destination for “nourishing hospitality” — a culinary and business philosophy that permeates every aspect of Botanica’s existence, from our obsessively farmers market-centric menu to our focus on multifaceted sustainability and our dedication to respect, equality, inclusivity and healthfulness as core operating tenets.
Our goal in the kitchen is to use beautiful local produce and thoughtfully sourced products to create food that is vibrant, exciting and nourishing — food that makes you feel good!
Our goal for our restaurant is to care for our community by creating a business that aims to respect, support, delight and nourish all those who it impacts.
Botanica is on a mission to democratize wine. Since opening in early 2017, our program has been comprised of exclusively natural wine, which we define on our wine list as: “Wine made by passionate producers, from grapes grown without pesticides, vinified without intervention or additives (beyond an occasional touch of sulfur for stability), with little-to-no manipulation. Wines that are vibrant, distinctive, alive. Wines we think are very special and that you should feel really, really good about drinking!”
Our list is sourced from a diverse, global group of independent winemakers whom we trust and respect, with an emphasis on women winemakers and sustainable agricultural processes. We believe that beautiful, thoughtfully-made wine should be approachable and accessible, and so we sell every bottle in a market at the front of our space, as well as in our dining room. Our goal is to enable you to drink beautiful, special wines in a casual, unfussy way — and to connect you to the process and the people behind what you’re drinking!
Botanica operates based the following core values, which guide our daily work and define our business:
*Nourishment: We serve thoughtful, nourishing food, and strive to create an environment where staff feels engaged, supported and safe.
*Hospitality: At its most elemental, this means taking care of each other. Being kind, thoughtful, attentive and generous.
*Respect: Respect the diversity of our team and the perspectives and experiences that each person brings to the table.
*Equality / Equity: Everyone is treated fairly and equally, without discrimination of any kind.
*Sustainability: From our locally sourced produce/products, to our compostable packaging, to wasting as little food as possible, to maintaining healthy work hours and fair wages, to providing education and opportunities for growth.
*Positivity: A good attitude makes all the difference. Toxicity and negativity don’t have a home here.
*Professionalism: We aim to create work and a workplace that all can take pride in.
NICE TO MEET YOU!
Prior to creating Botanica, Heather Sperling (co-owner) spent a lifetime cooking and a decade as a restaurant-focused editor for culinary publications — and on the side, served as a writer for dozens of others and a consultant for chefs, markets and culinary brands. Her love for vegetable-centric cookery is innate, informed by her Lebanese heritage and a stint living in India as a child. She’s a co-founder of the women-in-food-focused non-profit, Regarding Her, a mother of two, and is in the kitchen today because of her grandma Mary.
Emily Fiffer (co-owner) spent years writing about food and travel for DailyCandy, among other publications, and consulting on restaurant projects, all while obsessively cooking vegetables in her home kitchen. After talking her way into apprenticeships in London at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi and Sam & Sam Clark’s Moro, she took her love of healthful, vegetable-centric cooking to Los Angeles. She believes a life without tahini, honeycrisp apples and a collection of well-worn cookbooks is a life unlived.
Zarah Khan (chef) grew up in Seattle surrounded by food. Her culinary education started young, first learning to bake as a small child with her father, and cooking family dinners as a teen. Studying environmental science led her to a deeper exploration of the stories behind the food she prepared, the impact of humans on our food systems, and the ways in which she might inspire a new perspective. After working on farms both domestically and abroad, Zarah returned to the kitchen, eager to use food to inspire people to become more deeply connected to their environment.
As head of the kitchen at Botanica, Zarah brings a commitment to good vibes and beautiful, healthful food. (She’s been known to parade an especially bright leaf of rainbow chard around the kitchen.) She’s is an avid runner and certified yoga teacher who can be found reminding her cooks to breathe through the dinner rush. Prior to Botanica, Zarah was executive chef of the London Plane, and beloved Seattle establishment, where she made a name for herself with bright, flavorful, veg-forward cuisine inspired by her South Asian and Middle Eastern heritage.
Pierluc Dallaire (management) spent a decade at Joe Beef in Montreal, mastering multiple stations (from line cook to manager) before heading to Los Angeles to help open Botanica. Next, PL went onto open a place of his own: the beloved and special Bar Restaurant in Silverlake, which he ran with panache! Now we’re lucky enough to have him back, helming our natural wine program, solving 500 problems per minute, and leading our teams with style and grace. In his spare time, PL enjoys dancing of all kinds and cooking delicious meals.
Megan Lee (management) started at Botanica as Assistant General Manager back in 2017 before moving on to open James Beard-nominated restaurant, Nightshade, as General Manager. She then opened Red Herring as General Manager, running it through the pandemic, after which she joined Pierluc at Bar Restaurant as General Manager. Megan’s passion for food and hospitality spills into her life outside of work, where she volunteers at Andy’s Orchard.
JT Friedman (management) honed his hospitality chops at New York’s Café Altro Paradiso and Brooklyn’s Win Son before returning to his hometown of Los Angeles. After helping to open Santa Monica’s beloved Onda, he turned his attention to wine full-time, working as a specialist in fine and rare varieties. Today, we’re happy to call him our market whisperer. Almost daily, we marvel at our ever-beautified space filled with new and delicious products — and we have JT to thank!
WANT TO SAY HELLO? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
P R E S S
“You could probably spend hours people-watching at the aspirational all-day restaurant and marketplace that Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer opened in a remodeled Silver Lake liquor store, but better to focus on the vibrant, produce-driven artistry happening in the kitchen. Like that stylish party-throwing friend who also happens to be an amazing cook, the two food-writing veterans excel at creating dishes that are both effortless and craveable.” – Los Angeles Magazine, 10 Best New Restaurants of 2017
“There are a lot of restaurants that feel particularly L.A., but Botanica hits that nail squarely on the head. The women-led kitchen knows how to turn out beautiful food for beautiful people in a perfectly breezy space.”
– Lesley Balla, The New Classic Dishes of Los Angeles
“With its debut in 2017, Botanica helped lift Silver Lake out of the dark ages. A naturally bright, sunny spot where locally grown goods took center stage alongside whole foods and natural wines, it was an ideal agent of change that pushed this maturing hipster mecca beyond its overdependence on dusky woods, small-batch bourbon, and exposed lightbulbs.”
– Hadley Tomicki, Resy Dish by Dish with Chef Zarah Khan