Will Write For Food: Eater LA’s Kat Odell

A look at the local writers that cover the L.A. food and drink scene

Photograph courtesy Kat Odell

We’re food writers… a dedicated group of hungry souls that have the right balance of passion, drive, culinary know-how, and sometimes even a bit of wit to boot.  Oh, and did I mention luck? Yes, we’ve all worked hard to weasel our way into our gigs, but we’ll all be quick to admit, we’re lucky to have them.

While we’ve taken the time to introduce ourselves here at LAmag Digest, we thought we’d highlight some of the other fine folks that cover the awesome food and drink that fuel our mighty city. (Tough gig, but someone’s gotta do it.)

First up? Eater LA’s Kat Odell.

Full name (including middle), work title, and age?
Katherine Benes Odell, professional eater and drinker? or Eater LA editor. Age, 29. 

Hidden talents or superpowers?
I can recite the alphabet backward. And balance a spoon on my nose. I am also really good at eating gummy bears.

How long have you lived in L.A.? (If non-native, where’d you live before?)
Six years. Originally from New York.

What path led you to what you’re doing now?
Growing up in a food and wine obsessed household. Out of college I worked for Bon Appétit magazine and from there was hired by Eater.

Plenty of writers cover multiple beats, or write in addition to holding down a “day job.” Is this your only squeeze or do you have other work-related things that also occupy your time?
This is my only squeeze. Have some exciting things in the pipeline which I can’t really talk about yet … but to be announced soon!

What about when you’re not eating and/or drinking? What are some of your hobbies or favorite activities?
Hmmm. I think I am always eating or drinking? I love to travel (and eat). And shop for vintage clothing. Pretty much everything I do somehow relates to food or drink. 

Favorite part of your job?
Everything. I feel incredibly fortunate to love my job as much as I do. I love eating and drinking, I love the experience of dining at a restaurant, and I especially love hole-in-the-wall hidden gem type places. I am a big fan of exploring the San Gabriel Valley.

Least favorite part of your job?

How are you in the kitchen? Anything you’re particularly good (or bad) at making?
I’ve been cooking since age five. I come from a family of cooks and grew up with big dinners and a bottle of wine on the table every night. As much as I enjoy dining out, I also love cooking. I like to hit the Santa Monica Wednesday or Saturday farmers market and be inspired by what’s in season and plan a menu from that. I believe in ingredient-driven cooking. Less is more. Start out with high quality ingredients and let the ingredients speak for themselves. I make a mean lasagna. It’s my dad’s recipe.

What are some of your favorite places to eat around town?
I recently had a spectacular meal at Yamakase, that lesser known, sort of new sushi/kaiseki place in Palms by the former sushi chef from The Hump. I love super authentic hole-in-the-wall type places so I go to San Gabriel Valley somewhat regularly for regional Chinese. But, on the beaten path, places I like: Milo & Olive, Cafe Gratitude, Bäco Mercat, The Tasting Kitchen, Sushi Park, sugarFISH, Bestia, Axe (for brunch), Ray’s & Stark Bar, Superba Snack Bar, and I think BierBeisl is pretty great and unique for L.A. 

How about places to drink? Cocktails, beer, wine, coffee, tea… pick your poison(s).
Caffe Luxxe, Coffee Commissary, Moon Juice, and have been digging the hot smoothies at Pulse Cafe. By way of alcohol, I am a Matt Biancaniello fan so I’ll follow him to wherever. My go-to for drinks is usually Eveleigh, great bar program over there. The Tasting Kitchen, too. 

Any favorite markets?
Yup, Santa Monica Wednesday and Friday farmers’ markets. I also like to shop at Nijiya, the Japanese market on Sawtelle.

What do you feel is the most exciting thing happening in the local food scene right now?
There’s so much! I think now is an amazing time to be part of the food industry in L.A. Since I moved here, over the last five or six years, L.A. has really established itself on the gastronomic map in the country. Most of the highly regarded restaurants have opened in that time and there are only more chef-driven concepts to come. Also, operators from major food cities like NY, SF, and Chicago are slowly expanding here as well. It makes sense though. L.A. has incredible access to produce year round that most cities do not. Coffee, cocktails, beer, it all keeps getting better and better.

What would you want your final meal to be? And what would you want to drink along with it? Any music playing in the background?
My grandmother’s chicken soup. She lives in the Prague and makes the most incredible chicken soup. Definitely the best I’ve tried. I think I would drink the epic hot chocolate from Café Angelina in Paris. Postal Service playing in the back.

On Twitter: @Kat_Odell and @EaterLA