“I was a chubby baby, fated by food,” says Laurence Jossel, Executive Chef of Nopa. “Food has been a soothing thing [for me] from the beginning.” Food shifted from source of comfort to career when Laurence became a dishwasher at age 14, eager to earn money for his first car. From there, he was hooked. “I loved the adrenaline; putting money in my pocket.”
Laurence’s connection to food deepened as he shifted from washer to busser, waiter, cook, and eventually chef. “I’m in the business of delicious,” he says, “There’s something about super fresh and direct.” Laurence explains that going straight to the source and cooking with regional ingredients isn’t just about achieving optimal flavor; it’s also about karma. “I don’t have to worry about the negativity that is sometimes part of the long chain of food when I work directly with someone who has insight into when and how it was picked.”
He notes that the pride in these relationships goes both ways: “The farmers will be proud of what we put on the table.” Education is another mutually beneficial part of these relationships. Laurence gives farmers tips on how to cook what they’re growing, and they introduce him to new varieties. His latest discovery: the Momo tomato.
Further supporting the work of small farmers by taking part in Grazing at the Kitchen Table was a no-brainer for Laurence. "[They are] the core of our food. Small farmers farm with intention. [At Nopa], we shop with intention and cook with intention."
Laurence works with over 80 farms a year at Nopa. There’s no place he’d rather do it. “I have such access in this place and time. I think this is the zenith of cooking in the world. All I do is try not to screw it up.”
Experience Chef Jossel's delicious creations this September 22nd, 2016 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm during Grazing at the Kitchen Table. The event will be hosted at Dogpatch WineWorks in San Francisco. Tickets on sale starting Tuesday, July 19--don't wait to reserve your seat! Follow #GrazeAndGive2016 for updates.