Credit: Courtesy of KCRW

Meet Culinary Multi-Tasker Evan Kleiman, as She Shares Her Story and Where She Sources Ingredients in LA

Where to Shop Like Good Food Host and Restaurateur Evan Kleiman

For foodies throughout the country—and especially Los Angeles—Evan Kleiman has become a household name. Known for hosting KCRW’s Good Food, “a kaleidoscopic look at people and places through the lens of food,” Kleiman has dedicated her life to the culinary arts, whether it be as a chef, a restaurateur, a cookbook author, a radio show host or through the greater pursuit of food for thought. food markets in LA

One of the most beautiful things about food-related storytelling is learning where people have cultivated their passions for it. For Kleiman, an appreciation for food began at an early age. “Although my mom loved having people over, she wasn’t a great cook, and she never made cookies, so I had to learn to make them myself. When I was about eight years old, a neighbor taught me to follow a recipe and measure,” Kleiman reminisces.

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These were skills that unlocked the door to an exciting, food-centered future. Even though she was never formally trained in a kitchen, Kleiman continued to blaze a path fueled by curiosity and exploration for all things delicious.

“I learned to cook by watching others and working my way through cookbooks starting at an early age. I’ve been a lifelong voracious reader,” Kleiman explains. “I was a French major in high school, working in the kitchen for a Hollywood caterer. I graduated at 16 in 1970, and because I had sold cookies throughout my senior year and did the catering gig, I had enough money to pay for a charter flight to Europe. I stayed for nearly a year, and my focus changed from France to Italy.”

“When I returned home, I started school at UC Berkeley. Because I had to work throughout college, I transferred to UCLA so I could continue to work for the caterer, which I did all through college. I read about food and cooking constantly and cooked nearly every day at work. I was an Italian major as an undergrad and had opportunities to study there over several summers,” she says. “The cooking thing was fed naturally and grew along with my other studies. When I graduated, I gravitated toward the kitchen because it’s where I felt most competent and comfortable.”

Kleiman’s bio reads that “food was the way she navigated the world.” Of course, she had her exploration through travel and education through books, yet food offered her a gateway to interact not only with the world but with the people in it as well.

“I was a very shy kid—often cripplingly so. I learned early on that if I cooked and served people, I didn’t have to sit with them and chat,” she says. “I’m still not good at chatting. Making food became the currency of my social encounters, and later, along the way, I understood how the world worked.”

Chatting may not be her strong suit—in her opinion, that is—but that certainly hasn’t stopped her from making countless connections throughout her career, particularly through her time as a chef and as the host of Good Food.

“I was a chef for over 30 years and operated my restaurants for 27. The fact that I saw two generations of children raised on my food is my greatest happiness,” she says. “My restaurants were true neighborhood restaurants, kind of like the ‘Cheers’ of Italian food. Families and children were at the center of that.” food markets in LA

Kleiman has been the host of Good Food since 1998. She’s had thousands of conversations and the opportunity to interview many people over the course of their careers, including American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. “I also got to talk to Julia Child and Jacques Pépin many times, separately and together. Every week for years, I had an appointment to talk to American food critic Jonathan Gold. There’s no way to quantify what that experience meant.”

Famously a culinary multi-tasker, Kleiman’s list of accomplishments is as diverse as it is impressive, but she insists that this hunger is one of curiosity, not ambition.

“I’m just curious, and I love learning and reading. Cooking was a longtime center, and opening neighborhood restaurants was a certain kind of drive…but something was always missing,” she shares. For her, that something turned out to be hosting Good Food. “It also allows me to engage with food issues in a more comprehensive way that involves lots of reading and lots of conversations. It made my food life whole.”

For Kleiman, a typical Good Food work week greatly depends on how many interviews the team has booked. The show records twice weekly, leaving the rest of the time for research and prep work. Kleiman writes two newsletters per week, one for Good Food and a personal one. “I also spend at least an hour or two a day weaving—oh, and I cook, of course,” she adds.

food markets in LA

Kleiman’s Favorite Places to Source Quality Food and Ingredients 

Anyone who’s lived in or visited LA knows that the city is an incredible epicenter for food, and Kleiman has a theory as to why. “It’s the sheer breadth and diversity of it all, from world-class restaurants to tiny, family-run strip mall places,” Kleiman muses. “LA is big. It takes up a lot of space. Were it not for the food to pull us through, many people would never go beyond their work or home neighborhoods.”

Another key factor Kleiman praises is the agricultural abundance of LA and California in general. “The sun feeds us by allowing an extraordinary number of foods to grow well here in California,” she says. “We’re blessed with ingredients both locally grown and from a global pantry that’s brought to us by immigrants who come here from all over the world. It’s this intermingling of California sun and people and flavors from everywhere that makes LA such a lively place to eat and to cook.”

But where does a renowned culinary multi-tasker like Kleiman source her ingredients? We sat down with her to find out her favorite markets in Los Angeles. From wild-caught seafood to freshly baked goods, these six markets are her go-to’s.


The Joint Seafood

Best LA Markets
Credit: Joint Seafood

The Joint Seafood is known for its dry-aging program for fish that yields an exceptional product,” Kleiman shares. “Seriously, it’s a completely different fish experience that you should try. Not fishy and a crazy delicious texture.”

While you wait for your order, Kleiman suggests grabbing a macchiato and treating yourself to a pastry. One of her favorite things to take home, however, is the hand roll kit. “I love to get their hand roll kit for when friends come over. It’s an impressive feast that—although a splurge—is worth it.”

Should you want someone else to make your hand roll, Kleiman recommends checking out their 10-seat hand roll bar, Uoichiba Handroll Bar, in Culver City.

Location: Sherman Oaks


Friends & Family

Credit: Jakob Layman

If you’re in the mood for artfully made baked goods with an emphasis on seasonality and locally sourced heirloom grains, Kleiman suggests heading to Friends & Family. “Baker Roxana Jullapat is one of the local whole grain queens of our town,” praises Kleiman.

“Roxana’s husband, Chef Dan Mattern, is behind the savory cafe side of the operation. I stand in line for baked goods and am always seduced by the cold fried chicken and kale salad. Great breakfasts, too,” Kleiman shares.

Location: Thai Town

food markets in LA

Tehran Market

For everything related to Persian food and snacks, look no further than Tehran Market. Opened in 1987 by Mory Pourvasei, the market’s selection and helpful staff have earned a special place in Kleiman’s heart. “I always find something new to try in the deli or while browsing the shelves,” she says. And, according to Kleiman, “They do a Sunday morning cookout in the parking lot, making a variety of great kebabs.” Whether you’re in the Santa Monica area or not, it’s definitely worth checking out! 

Location: Santa Monica


Dat Moi Market

Since 1985, Dat Moi Market has boasted an incredible inventory full of African, Asian, Caribbean, Hispanic and Polynesian products. The aisles are brimming with diverse flavors and goods, making it the perfect place to find that elusive ingredient or to try something new.

“It’s such a vibrant mashup of culinary pantry material: a great selection of hard-to-find Caribbean ingredients and a huge selection of fresh fish,” says Kleiman. “I can spend an hour in the spice and tea aisles Googling plant material I never heard of.”

Location: Gardena


Epicurus Gourmet

“As an artisanal food wholesaler (open to the public), Epicurus Gourmet has a very large selection of specialty products. I love browsing the shelves to find a product or brand I’ve never heard of,” Kleiman says.

But the star of the show for Kleiman is its butter selection. “[It has the] biggest selection of artisan butters. It’s like a Bordier butter library plus more!” she shares. “Seriously, the butter selection is nuts—seaweed butter, smoked salt, espelette. The selection changes but is always interesting.”

Epicurus Gourmet stocks over 2,500 new arrivals every day and will gladly help you source special orders. In other words, it’s a gourmet foodie’s paradise.

Location: North Hollywood

food markets in LA

Hollywood Farmers’ Market

Founded in 1991, the Hollywood Farmers’ Market has become a celebrity in its own right, drawing locals and visitors to the corner of Ivar and Selma for decades. One regular, of course, is Kleiman, who likes to visit for produce, meats direct from ranchers, and prepared foods for breakfast and to take home for later in the day.

Boasting over 160 vendors, this market is ideal for restocking your pantry. “It’s the most life-affirming place to go on a Sunday morning in Hollywood—a great mood-booster, and I always run into people I haven’t seen in a while,” Kleiman says.

Location: Hollywood

Tune into KCRW’s Good Food on local radio (89.9 FM) or via podcast, and keep an eye out for PieFest, Good Food’s marquee event happening in late April.

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Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.




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