ALL ABOUT BOTANICA
We believe that healthful cooking can be vibrant, exciting and satisfying, that wine should be natural, and that hospitality should be nourishing. Scroll down to learn about our mission, our wine program, our core values & our team.
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.
Alex Barkley (executive chef): My name is Alex Barkley. I am from Seattle, Washington. I enjoy perfectly cooked legumes, cold seafood, classic cooking techniques, beautifully handled produce, and services that are just a little bit too busy. I worked for Renee Erickson at Walrus and the Carpenter and The Whale Wins, and Jeremy Fox at Birdie G’s. [Alex has basically worked at every delicious restaurant in Seattle. He was head chef at Manolin from 2014-2019, sous chef at the Whale Wins, and executive sous chef at LA’s Birdie G’s.]
Joanne Bae (sous chef) was born in Korea and grew up in Southern California. Her family appreciated and took pride in making great food, and she quickly became comfortable in the kitchen, helping her mom, aunts and grandma prepare meals for the family. Jo’s professional kitchen experience includes Here’s Looking at You (a Botanica favorite) and etta Culver City, a hearth-inspired restaurant (Jo loves a grill). Jo’s Korean American Thanksgiving table includes the usual roasted turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, plus bossam, an array of kimchis and banchans that her grandma would make. In her down time, Jo loves traveling, dining out, hiking, going to the beach and reading.
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.
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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
SUMMER RECIPES + A PROFILE on VOGUE.COM
THE BOTANICA INTERVIEW on CAP BEAUTY
AMATEUR GOURMET’S FAVORITE RESTAURANT
EXTRA CRISPY’s 2017 BREAKFAST OF THE YEAR
EMILY & HEATHER on BON APPETIT’S HEALTHYISH
CALI-CENTRIC HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE on BON APPETIT’S HEALTHYISH
HEATHER ON WHY WE SHOULD PAY MORE TO EAT IN RESTAURANTS in THE LA TIMES
BUCKWHEAT BROWNIE RECIPE in THE LA TIMES
FOOD52’s INTERVIEW with HEATHER
FEMALE CHEF ENCYCLOPEDIA with ZARAH KHAN
ZARAH KHAN on KCRW’S “GOOD FOOD” PODCAST
ZARAH KHAN on HERITAGE RADIO NETWORK’S “THE LINE” PODCAST