A Letter from Erica
Kitchen Mouse officially began in the spring of 2012 as a small catering operation out of my home. As I grew I employed the help of any friend or family member available. By the time fall rolled around, I was looking to expand into a much needed storefront and commercial kitchen. When I saw 5904 Figueroa, a defunct check-cashing operation that would soon be our Highland Park home, I was instantly drawn to it. The high ceilings and long narrow shape brought me back to the New York City cafes of my childhood.
Growing up in Westchester County, just north of Manhattan, I was exposed early and often to good food. My parents were both serious home cooks; our kitchen had a garland range, professional convection ovens, and a salamander. I imitated what I saw, playing “cooking show” and making cheese souffles out of “The Joy of Cooking.” My parents owned a recording studio in Hell’s Kitchen, and I grew up eating at iconic New York restaurants like Shopsin’s and marveling at all the “restaurants with high ceilings,” as I used to call them. The strongest memories I have are tied to meals, and I’m happiest when I’m eating and cooking.
My mom was my favorite person to eat and cook with, and in 2008 she passed away suddenly. She was a harsh food critic, but when she recommended a restaurant or dish, you knew it was going to be great. She once told me about “the best pizza she’d ever had,” at a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, called “al Forno.” It took me 8 years, but when I finally made it there it was even better than I imagined.
After I lost my Mom, I began chasing all the foods and flavors of my childhood and wound up indulging my childhood fantasy of becoming a chef. I studied French technique at Le Cordon Bleu and spent my “externship” working at a restaurant outside of Rome. I came home very inspired and ready to dive into the right opportunity when it came my way.
In 2012 I got that memorable and historic call from a producer named Jill to cater a photoshoot. I had no idea what that meant so I called my camera operator brother, Travis, and asked a lot of questions about being on sets. Jill was also so kind and talked me through the process. I’ve always felt very lucky to have fallen into a career I never knew existed (catering photoshoots, who knew!?) and to enjoy it as much as I do. It’s an incredibly hard and demanding job with lots of logistical challenges but I’ve learned so much and built an amazing team that makes it possible to this day.
In 2014 Kitchen Mouse cafe opened its doors on the back of our bustling catering department. I also had a son! It was a crazy and exciting time and a crash course in many things at once. I had decided that the cafe would have a vegan leaning vegetarian menu. We had created so many great recipes that just didn’t need the cheese, meat, or dairy. Having many vegan and vegetarian friends and clients, I wanted to offer another option for an underserved community of eaters. Today, Kitchen Mouse is a busy space where people gather and share experiences over food which makes me very, very proud! Thank you to anyone who has ever eaten here, worked here, hired us, or supported us in any other way. You make this all possible!
Why Kitchen Mouse?
People always ask where we got the name Kitchen Mouse. I have always loved mice (and hamsters). As a kid I had mice dresses, toys, and would rescue live ones from mouse traps. I was told it was probably not the best name for a food establishment, but I liked it!
Why is our cafe gluten-free & dairy free?
It’s rough out there for food options if you have dietary restrictions. After a few years of catering, I learned that dairy-free and gluten-free are our most common requests. It’s also the way my husband eats and how I cook at home. When I was designing the cafe menu back in 2014, I decided to open a place where you weren’t constantly having to modify dishes or ask to “hold the cheese.” I believe we should eat less meat and dairy - we’ve all seen the documentaries and felt it in our hearts - at the very least for our planet and our health. Keeping our cafe vegetarian is one way we try to do our part. It warms my heart to see people line up to eat our vegetarian menu and enjoy our food. That said, we are not a dedicated gluten-free or vegan kitchen, so please use caution if you have a severe allergy.
Is your catering vegetarian?
It is if you want it to be! We are passionate about vegan and vegetarian menus. Although we offer meat options, we get extra excited when we get asked to create a fully vegan meal. When we do source meat, we make sure to use meat and fish that’s organic or farmed using better practices.
What is this I keep hearing about your market next door?
in December of 2017 we opened a market next door called TOPO! Click the market link above for more info. TOPO is entirely plant based, but this time we’re introducing some gluten with freshly baked bread. As always, there will be gluten-free options for all dishes.
Is your food organic?
We really mean it when we say that we use as many organic ingredients as possible. Sometimes crop shortages don't allow us to source organic options so we do our best to source the most local or best alternative.
What's up with the cookie jars?
They were our Mom’s. She had 2,000 of them at one point and was featured in Good Housekeeping & Country Living. The jars you see in KM are the creme de la creme of what remains of her collection.
Are we kid friendly?
Keeping families in mind, we have a kid’s section and special kid’s menu, too!
Director of Operations
Chef de Cuisine
TOPO by Kitchen Mouse
Chef de Cuisine