A Day at the Draycott
I’ve learned alot about home in my years. About what it really means, and how it’s less of a place and more of a feeling you create alongside the people you love. And, of course, as a humble home cook and (now) restaurant owner, I’ve learned how much food plays a role in that.
For a long time, my home was Southern California, on the sunny, windswept coast where I was born and raised. During my childhood, home was defined by the avocados we picked off my grandmother’s tree and the vegetables we harvested from our backyard garden. Home meant regular trips to the Newport Beach docks for freshly caught fish. Or navel oranges to mark the start of yuletide festivities, my parents toasting with Christmas mimosas while we kids were relegated to the freshly squeezed juice.
Later, as an adult, I moved to New York, where I made a home amidst a newfound world of elegant fine-dining establishments and scrappy, impossibly addicting food trucks.
It wasn’t until I moved to London, however, that the meaning of home shifted, becoming fuller with each new, cherished addition in my life. First was my husband, Matt, who I met at a dinner party over a vegetarian course that, as a born-and-bred Brit, he wasn’t exactly keen on. Soon we fell in love, and as a restaurateur, he introduced me to an industry that thrilled and excited me. As a Brit, he led me into a culture and a country that I admired with passion.
As we began to build a family together, home changed. It became the sodden streets of Chelsea after one of London’s many rainfalls, the local market where we would wander every Sunday with baskets in hand, and our family kitchen, where the comforting smells of a traditional English breakfast or Irish stew enticed anyone nearby to venture in for a taste.
As much as I loved London, with its rich tradition and cozy pubs, there was a part of me that was still very much California, the sun-drenched land of my memory. So I brought a bit of that home to England, cooking for my family in a way that reflected my American roots as we put down new ones in London. I made shepherd’s pie with sweet potatoes, and bread pudding with sourdough (which now, hopefully, you’ll make too!). There was even a new California-inflected play on eggs Benedict, with a cashew butter hollandaise and quinoa pancakes. Over the course of a decade, I happily built a new home for my family using elements of my old one, the way you might tailor a wedding dress with lace from an inherited gown.
That all changed, though, with the birth of our third child, our darling little Sadie. Following what turned out to be a traumatic pregnancy, Matt and I realized that maybe home should have a new meaning once again. Maybe, with this darkness behind us, we should be near family, where the kids so noticeably would bask in the coastal sunshine during summer holidays. Maybe cooking with California should now take shape in California. Maybe it was time to return to my roots.
After we packed up our lives and moved halfway around the world to LA, I felt adrift—a bit of culture shock even. Here I was, back in the land that raised me, back surrounded by avocados and citrus trees. I was physically home. Yet why did I feel in some way unmoored?
It prompted me to consider this idea of home once again—what it truly meant for my family and me. It was during this time that a dear friend of mine offered some sorely needed advice. To make our new city feel like home, she told me to form routines that were familiar. We had gone to the market every Sunday morning back in London, a weekly tradition. Heeding her advice, we sought out the local farmers market and started going every week. I turned back to that steadfast British comfort of afternoon tea, savoring the cup I brewed for myself each day. Roasts and puddings continued to appear on our table, bolstered by fresh California ingredients, but familiar all the same. Little by little, LA started to feel like home again, with a welcomed UK varnish.
The process ultimately inspired our next project, our next step. Matt and I decided to create a destination embodying the cultural mash-up we now call home. And with that, The Draycott was born. An anchoring hub for our new community, blending all the bits and pieces that make up our home, centered around food.
The Draycott marries everything we love about LA—the farm-fresh ingredients, the year-long bounty of produce, the unhurried sensibility—with everything we miss about London. It’s a place for families and friends, the quick casual cocktail, the four-hour dinner, the mid-day business lunch, and all joyous celebrations thereafter. It’s a restaurant built on the foundations of our home, and one that we hope becomes a piece of home for each of our diners and neighbors, as well.
In the end, home is what you make of it, with the food on your plate and loved ones around the table. It’s perhaps one of the best lessons I’ve learned. And, perhaps, the clearest I’ve been on my own definition of “home” in a quite some time.
Sourdough Bread-and-Butter Pudding Served with a Salted Caramel Sauce
Sourdough Bread-and-Butter Pudding
1 loaf day-old sourdough (I like to leave the crust on, but you can remove it if you want a softer texture to your pudding)
2 tbs. unsalted butter
½ cup raisins
3 peaches (stones removed, sliced)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk
⅔ cup light cream
⅔ cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
½ cups coconut sugar
2 large vanilla beans (split, seeds scraped)
1 tbs. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slather the bread (on both sides!) with the butter—the more generous you are, the better it will taste. Slice the sourdough into roughly inch-thick pieces and fill your baking dish of choice (a wide, low dish usually works best). Keep in mind that the bread shrinks once the custard mixture is added, so it is okay if the sourdough pieces overfill the dish.
Scatter a handful of raisins evenly across the base. Arrange some of the peach slices across the base.
Arrange the next base bread layer over the layer of raisins and peaches, followed by a layer of peach wedges—continue this until you have used all of the bread, raisins, and peaches.
Whisk together the milk, creams, eggs, sugar, vanilla seeds, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the layered bread. Gently press down with your hand so the bread absorbs the liquid. Let sit for an hour.
Once the bread is drenched and ready, scatter a final layer of peaches on top of the bread and sprinkle with raisins.
Place in the oven for 35 minutes.
Salted Caramel Sauce
½ cup sugar
3 tbs. heavy cream
1 tbs. softened butter
Pinch of sea salt
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar. Gently swirl the pan as the sugar begins to melt, but do not stir.
Once the sugar has turned a dark amber color, remove it from the heat and carefully pour in the cream. Using a whisk, begin to stir the caramel while adding the softened butter until everything is mixed together.
Sprinkle in the salt and whisk well.
Pour into a serving container until ready to serve with the pudding.