Spring is a great time to explore some new recipes and Marissa Hermer, restaurateur and star of Bravo’s Ladies of London just launched a new cookbook that will help us Yanks serve up some delicious homestyle British food, with a California twist.
Food has always been important to Hermer who grew up in Southern California. She graduated from Vermont’s Middlebury College and moved to New York to work in PR. In 2008, she followed her now husband Matt Hermer to London. Matt is a successful club owner and restaurateur and his restaurant Bumpkin is a huge hit. Soon after the move, they were married and now have three children.
In 2014, she was drafted to appear on the Bravo hit reality series Ladies of London. She opened her first solo restaurant Top Dog in 2015, which has since closed. The family recently moved back to California, but will continue to bounce between the continents.
Matt’s simple tastes intrigued her and she embraced making more traditional fare, however, she didn’t fully stray from healthy California cuisine. Some of her favorite recipes featured in the book include Corn Fritters, Patricia’s Lamb and Barley Irish Stew, Sourdough Bread and Butter Pudding and Eclipse’s Watermelon Martini.
Marissa Hermer dished to TheCelebrityCafe.com about being on Ladies of London, her culinary background, what makes British food so good, how cookbook An American Girl in London has something for everyone, what she likes to do for fun and more.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What's new with you?
Marissa Hermer: This has been a busy few months - we came to Los Angeles after Christmas and have spent the last few months getting the children settled, moving into our Pacific Palisades house, and adjusting to LA life (and soaking up as much sunshine as possible, as we missed it for years living in London!)
TCC: Where are you from?
MH: I grew up in Laguna Beach and the moved to Newport Beach when I was 10. I went to boarding school in Monterey, California and then college at Middlebury in Vermont.
TCC: How did you first get interested in cooking?
MH: I’ve always loved food, but I really only got interested in cooking when I met and married Matt and then started growing a family with him (and needing to feed everyone!)
TCC: What is your culinary point of view?
MH: We are big Farmers Market people - I love cooking with local seasonal ingredients to make nourishing meals.
TCC: British food seems to have a bad rep; what do you like best about British food?
MH: When I first moved to London a decade ago, British food did have a bad rap, but I really think this has changed over the last several years. There is such a mix of flavorful ethnic foods and high quality local produce and casual and fine dining... The Brits do homey, cozy, comfort food best.
TCC: Tell me about Bumpkin?
MH: My husband Matt started Bumpkin over a decade ago and it now has 4 locations in South Kensington, Chelsea, Notting Hill and Stratford. Our seasonal menus at Bumpkin use all local ingredients - it really is the Best of British.
TCC: Who are some chefs or home cooks whom you really admire?
MH: I love Ina Garten.
TCC: How did you get involved with Ladies of London?
MH: My friend Noelle Reno was talking to the Bravo producers when they were developing the show and they asked her to recommend a few other American girls in London - and my name was put forward. Initially I wasn’t interested in being on television, but then my husband convinced me to try it - saying that if it didn’t work out then it was just something crazy I did and if it did work out, then who knows what would happen!
TCC: What was your favorite thing about being on the show?
MH: Of course there were fights and tears, but on the whole we had a good time with each other.
TCC: What do you miss most about America when you are in London? Or vice versa as you seemed to have moved.
MH: We’ve actually kept our house in London and still own and operate Bumpkin restaurants and Eclipse bars - so just a bit more bicontinental. In London, of course I miss the California sunshine, sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and fleshy ripe Avocados. And while in California, I miss Sunday walks in Hyde Park to feed the swans, the fun nightlife and lazy Sunday Roasts with dear friends and family.
TCC: Please tell me about your book.
MH: When I moved to London to be with my then boyfriend (now husband), a British restaurateur who prefers meat and potatoes to guacamole, my California BBQ took a backseat to the classic Sunday roast and sticky toffee pudding elbowed out the s’mores. As I made my home in England and started a family of my own, I didn’t want to loose my roots and so I began incorporating a bit of California into my recipes, creating homey British favorites with a brighter twist.
Drawing inspiration from my American upbringing and British cuisine, the 120 recipes in An American Girl in London show how to cook delicious, nourishing, family-friendly fare that earns raves on both sides of the pond. From a flavorful sourdough bread and butter pudding to a rich mushroom and tarragon pie, I show you how to amp up the flavors of home to keep you, your family and friends feeling fit, loved and completely nourished.
TCC: What makes it unique?
MH: My home kitchen might not be the most traditional, it’s a match made in transatlantic heaven.
TCC: What do you like to do for fun?
MH: We love nothing more than inviting friends and their families over to our house for afternoon BBQs in the sun with too much rosé.
TCC: What are some charities that you support?
MH: I’m on the board of the NSPCC in the UK.
TCC: How do you like fans to connect with you?
TCC: What's next for you?
MH: Matt and I are looking for sites in LA to open some of our favorite British restaurants in Los Angeles.