WOW! Magazine: Q&A with David Jones and Karla Lawrence

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As the owners of Artisan Kitchen, David Jones and Karla Lawrence are partners in so many senses of the word. So how do TWO people work together day and night in TWO businesses and still speak kindly of each other (for the most part)?

We asked. They answered.

For your final meal on earth, what would you have someone prepare for you?
David: Choosing a final meal would be very difficult. I like simple, fresh dishes like quick sautes of fresh herbs and vegetables, but I also like rich Italian dishes like lasagna. For my final meal, however, I would pick something that took an exceptionally LONG time to prepare. I would need very RARE ingredients, personally chosen by me from across the globe. I would require many hours of research and consultation with the world’s top chefs. And, of course, Karla would have to prepare it.

Karla: My last meal . . . hmmm . . . well to start, a bottle of wine. Then maybe chestnut polenta, drizzled with olive oil topped with fresh ricotta and crispy pancetta. Then another bottle of wine. Maybe a seven-layer lasagna (all fresh ingredients, including the pasta) and a roasted garlic baguette. And another bottle of wine. For dessert a slice of warm sock-it-to-me cake soaked in butter brandy sauce with a dollop of creme fraiche. To finish: a long straw, a bottle of Jack, and barbecue pizza. That’s going out with a smile!

What is the worst mistake you’ve made when preparing a dish or meal for someone?
David: I burned it, over-salted it, dropped it, forgot it, undercooked it, didn’t make enough of it, cooked the wrong IT, etc. What can I say; IT’s not always a happy, pretty process.

Karla: So many to choose from! The one that sticks out the most is getting to a catering event, setting up to serve only to realize that the dessert is loaded in my car, and STILL sitting at Artisan Kitchen because at the last minute drivers were switched and I drove the van! Mad dash back to AK! Check list please! I try to learn from my many mistakes.

What are the two flavors you’d love to mix/mingle but haven’t ever tried?
David: Coffee and tree-ripened peaches. I grew up on a peach orchard, and one of my favorite memories is tree-ripened peaches. I also love waking up to that first cup of coffee. Of course, there’s also Vodka and Bourbon.

Karla: If I wonder about it, I try it.

What do you enjoy most about creating food for others?
David: There’s a particular look people get when they eat something and are surprised by just how good it tastes. I love to see that look. Cooking for people is really quite intimate when you’re sincere in the process. Getting paid is cool too.

Karla: Having others take pleasure and share in what I am so
passionate about.

What is the biggest challenge of running a restaurant?
David: There are so many moving parts and processes, and there is no way around having to delegate. We can’t cook all the food. We can’t wait on every table. To me, this is a very personal business. I’ve tried chaining Karla to the stove, but that didn’t work. Something about not being able to sleep standing up, or the grill burning her face, or something. I wasn’t really listening.

Karla: The menu. Trying to be different and familiar all at the same time is such a challenge. Anticipating what the customer wants or is willing to try is a huge motivation, but also daunting.

What’s the one thing that (David/Karla) does that annoys you the most?
David: You really want just one? To begin with, there is that nagging insistence that every little flavor is perfectly balanced. Things have to be diced correctly. It just never ends. There’s always a new recipe to try. But it doesn’t stop there. Nooo. She always has to change something to get the flavor just right. And don’t even get me started on those DIMPLES!

Karla: When he tries to keep me grounded with my, as he says “wild culinary twists and ideas.”

What is (David’s/Karla’s) greatest strength as a food partner?
David: Her impeccable taste in friends and business partners.

Karla: He’s encouraging and supportive, and to have my best friend as my business partner is just awesome.

This feature appeared in Volume 20 of WOW! Magazine. Read the entire issue here.