“It’s my jam,” Jessica Koslow of Sqirl says in regard to her work. And when she says that, it’s two-fold: she crafts handmade fruit spreads and preserves in her small Silverlake kitchen and cafe, and truly loves what she does (it’s a phrase you’ll encounter quite often on the West Coast).
Sqirl is a place to stop in for breakfast or lunch, and is also Jessica’s line of jams, jellies and marmalades that she cooks up using produce from local, family-owned farms. The spreads also make appearances throughout the cafe’s menu—an apple butter covers brioche toast, preserved Meyer lemons are served atop brown rice and your choice of jam can be added to any bowl of oatmeal.
When working as a chef in Atlanta, Jessica quickly picked up on the trend of pickling—she’d constantly encounter mason jars filled with some sort of vegetable or fruit. After spending a few years in the south, she traveled to New York, then to Los Angeles where she spent time working in production.
At the time, she loved working with food but didn’t know how to put the pieces together to make it into a full time job, rather than something she just did after hours (then, it was bread baking that took up her time after the normal 9-5 schedule).
On each coast she had encountered a “handmade culture.” Artisans in every industry, including chefs, were focusing on the individuality of the things they were creating, always tracking them back to the original sources.
When she reached California she really put two and two together: the source for produce-based products is essentially in a chef’s backyard, and jams and marmalades were noticeably absent from the Los Angeles culinary scene. In a state that provides approximately 70% of the nations’ produce, she could provide a fresh new product (both literally and figuratively in the food world).
Jessica told us that when she loves something, she really “geeks out” over it. In the case of produce, she’ll find one unique food item that’s only available for a short amount of time during the season, and dedicate all of her time to track it down and create an interesting recipe around it.
Even though there’s much that goes into her product, you can visit Sqirl, enjoy a piece of brioche toast with a perfectly sweet fruit spread (topped with a sharp cheddar for balance), without having to over think the process of making it. It’s just simply delicious.
Jessica is wearing the Edgeworth in English Oak.
Photos by Collin Hughes