Marissa Hermer, author of An American Girl in London, found herself transitioning from the London girl to the always sunny in California lifestyle. With her three kids and business partner/husband Matt Hermer, Marissa has managed to balance her busy life and doesn’t plan to stop her expansion in the restaurant business. We had the amazing opportunity to sit with her and talk more about growth and progress within her life and career.
Melissa: When did you develop a taste for cooking?
Marissa: I had a tricky pregnancy with Sadie and I was on bed rest with her. When my doctor told me I couldn’t leave the house, I started to cook; it gave me something to do. It also fed that part of me that wanted to be maternal and that part of me that wasn’t being satisfied, because I couldn’t run around with the boys in the park and I couldn’t take them to playdates, I couldn’t take my husband out, take him to dinner and go dancing with him. So, I was able to feed the boys and my family, and that satisfied my needs as well.
Melissa: Is there any type of cooking that you really love to cook?
Marissa: I love cooking comfort food because that’s the kind of food I cooked when I was pregnant. Sadie was born in April, but I had to get through the London winter, which is pretty much October to April, and so that was the time I was cooking.
Melissa: Right! Are there any cookbooks or chefs that you look to for inspiration?
Marissa: I love Ina Garten and I love Jamie Oliver. Because I’m not a trained chef, I look to chefs who have easy recipes to follow and then I put my own spin on it. I like to make it easy because we have three kids and we’re busy working. Cooking as a family is something that is so important for Matt and I to teach our kids too, so meals that we can all cook as a family is super important.
Melissa: What’s the go-to meal for your busy week if you want to make something for the family but want it to be easy?
Marissa: We’re British, we like to do a roast chicken for supper. We’ll do cauliflower and cheese plus roast potatoes and roast root veg.
Melissa: When you’re cooking in the kitchen, are there any accessories that you wear? A specific apron, a certain hair accessory or tie?
Marissa: If I get an apron on I’m lucky! I actually like cooking in slippers because I have these really cozy slippers, and then I just know I’m not going out so it’s really nice!
Melissa: Were there noticeable differences in opening a restaurant here versus in London? Were they in some ways more or less challenging?
Marissa: The challenge was that it was our first restaurant that we have ever done in America. We know the UK system with the rules, building regulations and labour regulations and it was challenging because everything is different in the US. We have an entire team in London and there was a lot more infrastructure.
I’m big on hats! I feel put-together with a hat and I just like hats.
Melissa: Do you have a favorite menu item here that you love?
Marissa: I always find a roast cauliflower is such a nice fall or winter dish. London has a lot of Indian flavor and spice influence, so we do it a little bit Indian but not overly spicy. I like the branzino on the menu, the pudding, fish n chips, the scallops…
Melissa: It’s all so good! What does a typical day look like for you?
Marissa: We really get out of bed around 6:30/6:45 and I shower, start breakfast and pack the lunches. Matt gets the children out of bed. I do the school runs, I drop the kids off and then I go into the office. I try a few mornings a week to do Yoga, or go for a run, or walk our dog. I love Yoga Hop in Santa Monica and I like noel rock’s Pilates. I’m on and off my blackberry working through this. Matt and I will come back here (the restaurant) a few evenings a week for 5 o’clock dinner with the kids. A few evenings a week we’ll have dinners at home and Matt and I will tuck them into bed and then come back here for 7:30.
Melissa: That’s nice! Is there anything that you do for self-care?
Marissa: We all need self-care! I sleep in on the weekends until 8:30 or 9 am. Sometimes I do a Sunday evening bath. I have a ritual where I do bath salts and candles and a face mask, and then I read The Week – which is a political and current affairs magazine. It comes out on Saturdays, so I read that in the bath on a Sunday.
Melissa: What if we were to re-arrange your closet, what would you have the most of?
Marissa: I’m big on hats! I feel put-together with a hat and I just like hats. It’s so sunny here all the time in California, so I try to wear them a lot. I’m big on cozy jumpers. I love this time of year in California because you can wear cashmere – which is all I had in London.
Melissa: Do you have a specific fashion style or taste that you gravitate towards?
Marissa: To be honest it’s really a mix usually driven by what I’m doing – driving the kids to school or going out to the restaurant.
Melissa: Who designed the interior of the restaurant?
Marissa: This restaurant was designed by a gentleman named Tom Parker who has a design agency called Fettle. When this project came about, I really wanted to create a place that was reminiscent of our London home. A lot of the colors, textures and materials are from our home in London.
Melissa: Will there be another restaurant, or are you just taking it slow?
Marissa: Matt and I are signing something in West Hollywood, and there’s something in Santa Monica ready. It’s interesting working with your husband. We communicate well, and we have very divided roles – we know what our jobs are. Men and women do things differently – I get very attached to this project in a maternal way – this is like a baby to me, whereas for Matt this is very much a business.