The day before our backyard lunch we were going to shoot Camila Marcus Home in Los Angeles, the chef and founder still haven’t decided what to make. “I’ll tell you after I go to the market,” I read her text, and though that kind of simple planning might make me feel a little nervous with any other interview topic, I knew: Camila has it covered.
This is very simple and intuitive cooking approach It is what sets Camilla’s food apart, along with her deep appreciation for seasonality and local farmers. It forms the cornerstone of West ~ Bourne, the consumer-focused food brand she founded last year that makes “feel good” inspired by the bounty of California. Although I’ve known Camila for a few years, this photo shoot would be my first chance to see and taste her cooking up close, and I couldn’t wait to spend an afternoon in her sun-drenched Los Angeles home surrounded by the spoils of her market run. And I was dying to see where it landed on the list.
Watch the video from our garden-to-table lunch with Camilla:
But first, some things you should know. During the pandemic, Camila and her family moved from New York City, where she owned a restaurant (also called West-bourne), to sunny Los Angeles where they bought and renovated a home, launched West~Bourne as a sustainable food brand, and gave birth to their third child. It’s been a busy couple of years, but Camila’s passion for her latest act of love is clear, and her dedication to making a real impact. About the company she said:
West ~ Bourne On a mission to empower us all to tackle the climate crisis through food. We know what works – Regenerative agriculture can have one of the biggest impacts on climate change, and our country’s land revolution is already underway with 500 million acres moving toward regenerative practices.
It’s a passion Camila brings to everything she does, and I’m always inspired by the way she lives boldly and authentically. Scroll through to meeting me with Camila, scenes from our lunch in the garden, and all the delicious spring menu recipes she made for us.
About her life on the West Coast and her home
How did you find your house? Did you renew?
Our home is very special to us – the first we really got. Up until this point, we’ve rented and moved in about every two years since we’ve been together for the past two decades. We had a friend who lived in the building who mentioned that he’d heard his neighbors might be moving on from their old farmhouse style on a large lot. We immediately went to visit, and it turned out that the owner was a friend of our dear friends from New York.
I was nine months pregnant and about to give birth to my daughter, and although buying our first home and getting ready to renovate it seemed like a stressful process, everything fell into place naturally. I believe in signs and that the universe activates when we are ready. Therefore, it was kismet from the very beginning.
We’ve done a lot for the house. It had beautiful bones, and we wanted to bring it back to honor its 1951 mid-century modern roots. The house wraps around nature, so it’s all about bringing the outdoors in and having a very contemplative vibe throughout. My favorite part is our garden and chicken coop. We spend a tremendous amount of time as a family there, talking to our ladies, teaching our kids about growing our own food, and taking amazing bounty for our meals.
What does a typical day at home look like?
Every day is a new day – there is certainly no ‘typical’ in my life. I live in an unbalanced mix.
I get up around 7:30 am and cuddle with our dog first. Then I brush my teeth, and we go wake our kids up. the Holy morning Time for us as a family. We have a milking and cuddling party, and they all help each other get changed and get ready to make breakfast together. My son especially loves to cook, so my two older children usually help me with breakfast while my husband makes coffee for us.
I only drink one cup a day, so it’s a ritual to make coffee on our beloved La Marzocco machine, usually with a little Rainbo 11:11 excerpt For an extra brain boost.
We sit down together to talk about the day, to set some intentions, and to make sure everyone knows where we’ll all be.
Camilla’s approach to hosting and gatherings
What does a great gathering look like to you?
Quality time is my love language, so it’s sacred to me to find ways to build connection and community. I love to bring guests to a gathering, whether it’s bringing a dish, helping out with a playlist, or sharing their favorite local produce with someone else. I also always go for the element of surprise, bringing people together who don’t know each other, providing a space to showcase someone’s talents, doing a joint activity to learn a new skill, or even introducing a new product or food.
Curiosity can open our minds and lead to a more meaningful exchange of ideas and intentions.
What scares you about entertainment?
nothing. Really, it gives me great joy to bring people together and create unique experiences. I love every aspect of it, and I also welcome the unpredictability and logistics that go with it.
What are your signature dishes for gatherings?
I actually like to cook something new every time if I can, and I often haven’t made exactly what I serve before. I think I love the excitement of challenge and discovery which brings my cooking experience to life and where I learn the most. It adds a little more stress to the execution, but Jazz Playing in the Kitchen If You Want It to Me exudes vitality, surprise that can’t be written, and a soul that I think you can savor even if you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Get Camila’s recipe Pink radicchio salad with blood orange and hazelnut.
How do you handle creating a guest list?
I have an eclectic group of friends and always like to incorporate groups, as well as throw in some out-of-town visitors and total strangers. I’m the queen of cold calling and never shy away from reaching out to someone I admire or inspire and invite them to a meeting.
What are your tips for making guests feel comfortable?
If the host is comfortable, the guests will be too. I also feel it’s important to integrate the guests into the experience, even if in a small way. It’s easy to feel relaxed when you’re a part of creation, too.
favorite Start conversations Or a question to get to know someone?
What’s on your travel bucket list?
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
track of each guest. That always sets the music up for an unexpected ride.
What are some of your favorite products for the table?
- KH Wurtz
- Monday in Brooklyn
- Robert Siegel Ceramics
Vases, cutting boards, and stone pallets are from the olive ateliers
Vintage Candlesticks (The Best Mix and Match)
Antique cutlery, or used Jean Dubost Laguiole
Go-to centerpiece solution:
I love combining pieces from around the house—jars, pots, mugs, and stuff—mixed with fresh produce and foliage. It’s a conscious way to create a unique look, welcome imperfection, and invite nature to the table.
What is the no stress party rule to live by?
The atmosphere of any event stems from the host. If you’re having a good, laid-back time, so will everyone else.
Get a recipe for this Eincorn salad with charred butternut squash.
Dream dinner guests?
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Ina Garten
- Albert Einstein
- Otis Redding
in seasonal cooking
What explains your approach to food?
For me, it’s about cooking holisticly to nourish yourself and our planet. What’s good for the soil is always better for our health.
Get a recipe for Gallette with cream fresh.
What is your must-have cooking tool and why?
The mandolin is an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your cooking and plating. Having a shaved ingredient always evokes restaurant quality and creates something different for your dish.
Tell us a few things that we will always find in your fridge?
We always have Lemon Preserve, Pickled Shallots, Cabbage, Fermented Hot Sauce, Toasted Sesame Dressing, White Miso, White Mustache Yogurt, Spicy Zab Mustard, Parmesan, Creme Fraiche, Gheyeh, Kimchi, Night Oats, Fresh Eggs from our Chicken.
fill the gaps:
It must be the perfect meal … Feed.
It’s not a dinner party without it … interested persons.
Every cook should know how … Join the meal with joy.