Marta Teegan and Robert Stelzner are the owners of Cookbook LA, an artisan market in the heart of Echo Park. With a background in art history and a passion for food, the two open their doors seven days a week to give locals access to a carefully curated selection of produce and responsibly-made food. True to their name, they also whip up an assortment of freshly prepared dishes, pulling recipes from a different cookbook each week.. I sat down with Marta and Robert to talk inspiration, location, and what it's like to run a market.
Photos & Interview
Q: What is the concept behind CookbookLA?A neighborhood green grocer. We live in this community and there are really not many opportunities for fresh, seasonal food. We stock all of your basics: milk, butter, eggs, fresh produce, certainly – but within each of those basic categories we are very select in terms of who we’re willing to work with. We generally only offer one or two vendors in each category by design. We’re very small, we have very limited square footage, and that forces us to do a lot of the weeding out that doesn’t necessarily happen at other grocery stores. In general, the bare minimum requirement is that they produce food responsibly, that there is little to no harm done to the environment or the animals and we’re very interested in supporting people who producing food responsibly so that they are able to make a living doing this. So we definitely pay a premium even on the wholesale end, but that’s important to us that people should be able to afford to produce this food, not in a subsistence agriculture style.
Q: How long has CookbookLA been open?We’ve been open for almost a year and a half now.
Q: What is your background in regards to food and running a market?
We have zero background in running a market. We’re both trained art historians. Robert worked in publishing prior to this. I ‘m trained as a master gardener, and had a company for several years before this growing food for private residences but also for a restaurant, overseeing their production garden here in town. I am technically trained as a chef and have worked in restaurants since I was sixteen, but never in a full time basis, it was always on a part-time basis while in school doing art history.