How to have the best Sunday in L.A., according to Ellen Bennett
Ellen Bennett, the ebullient founder and chief executive of local kitchen-gear concern Hedley & Bennett, has spent most of her life in the L.A. area, except for four years in Mexico City at the start of her culinary career. Born and raised in Glendale, she now lives in Pasadena after a decade in the Echo Park neighborhood.
She launched her Vernon-based company in 2012 and has since built it into a multimillion-dollar operation thanks to expanded offerings (knives, apparel and a line of silicone kitchen utensils launching in November) and savvy collaborations (including Vans, “Star Wars,” the Grateful Dead and a Crocs collab — shoe charms and all — that dropped last week).
In Sunday Funday, L.A. people give us a play-by-play of their ideal Sunday around town. Find ideas and inspiration on where to go, what to eat and how to enjoy life on the weekends.
But the collaboration that has most profoundly shaped the arc of her Sundays — including the ideal version below (which she wrote out — literally — on a whiteboard with a pink dry-erase marker in an office conference room) — is the one with her husband and H&B’s chief creative officer, Casey Caplowe: a 21-month-old son named Nico.
Brandishing her marker, Bennett sketched out a perfect day that starts with her baby boy and blueberries, ends with a cup of tea and includes a 300-pound Vietnamese potbelly pig, a light-speed out-to-dinner with a wee one and a wholesale defragmentation of the family fridge. In honor of her first book, the business memoir “Dream First, Details Later: How to Quit Overthinking & Make It Happen!” published in 2021, we’re calling this “How to Quit Overthinking & Make the Best Sunday Ever Happen!”
7:45 a.m. Grab some “bobos,” whip up some smoothies and give the pig breakfast
On a typical Sunday, Nico will get us up between 6:30 and 7, but this is my perfect Sunday so it’s 7:45. My absolute favorite thing to do in the morning is to take him to the pantry and get our vitamins — he knows exactly where his are — and we sit on the floor together and sort through our vitamins and take them. Then he eats some blueberries, which he calls bobos, and we’ll have some breakfast, which can be eggs or something like that. And there’s a smoothie that he loves. It’s got hemp seeds, almond butter, frozen blueberries, spinach, almond milk, protein powder, ice, and then we’ll [add] a nut. Sometimes a secret little trick is to throw in some frozen cauliflower. It ends up being super creamy and sweet but without adding any sugar.
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Then it’s time to feed Oliver [the pig] and Olive Oil [the rescue chicken]. The tradition is Nico will grab his little enameled metal bowl, and I’ll hand him the cup. And he’ll fill it up with Oliver’s food, and we’ll go together to feed Oliver. Olive Oil comes in the house and she’ll eat whatever leftovers are on the floor from Nico’s breakfast.
8:30 a.m. Jet off to a whirlwind workout
We usually switch off, but because this is my dream Sunday, Casey will be with Nico, and I’ll go [take a class] at either F45 or CorePower Yoga or Orangetheory. I’ll be like, “Gotta go!” And he’ll take over making smoothies with Nico, and I’ll jet out of the house.
10:15 a.m. Circle the wagon at the Atwater Village farmers market
When I’m back from my class, it’s time to get dressed and go to the farmers market, which I love doing. If we’re feeling super ambitious or are planning to meet friends, we’ll go to the one in Hollywood, but otherwise it’s the one in Atwater Village. Since this is my dream Sunday, that’s where we’d go because it’s near Proof Bakery. Casey loves their coffee, and Nico loves their croissants. I’ll get an English Breakfast tea with a splash of milk. We’ll go here first and then mosey on over to the actual farmers market.
We love Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food and we always get his spring roll that has tempeh inside of it and a delicious sauce you can dip it in. And it’s fresh and has shiso leaves. I just love it. And I also love the Delmy’s Pupusas there. We’ll get two bean-and-cheese pupusas and share them — even though we could literally eat five. Then it’s running around getting things we want, produce at the market and protein elsewhere. We usually get some kind of stone fruit, eggs, beautiful tomatoes, kale. And we pile it all into Nico’s stroller. If we’re really ambitious, we’ll bring his Veer, which is an epic wagon that has a seat for the kid and all this space to pile stuff in.
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Then we’ll go to the Juice across the street and get their cashew date “ice cream” with air quotes around it. It’s not really ice cream. It just has frozen dates and cashews and like banana or something in it. Then we hustle home because it’s Nico’s nap time.
11 a.m. Pull some recipes out of the rainbow
Since I got to work out in the morning, Casey will go out for a bike ride, and I’ll stay home while Nico naps. If we’re cooking for friends that night, I’ll go to the rainbow wall of cookbooks in my kitchen — arranged in proper Ellen Bennett fashion by ROYGBIV order — which is fun to look at. My favorite way to cook is to just pull three or four and just open them up. It depends on what I’ve gotten at the farmers market, but right now two [of the cookbooks] I’m obsessed with are “Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen” by Adeena Sussman, and Pati Jinich’s “Treasures of the Mexican Table.”
I’ll start cobbling together a dinner menu — usually writing it on the back of an envelope or something — and then eventually I’ll be like, “I’m actually getting hungry,” so we’ll work on making lunch while Nico is still napping.
Noon Fire up the outdoor oven
I have a lot of different outdoor equipment for cooking and I really like using it during the weekend. I just love being outside, so I’ll fire up my Gozney Dome. It’s basically a pizza oven but it’s so ... fast. You turn it on, and within 10 minutes, it’s like 800 degrees. You pop anything in, and the fire is right there. I made a carne asada this morning, and the other day when Nico was napping, I made an entire side of salmon. I put mustard and olive oil and a bunch of different spices on it, and it got this amazing char. Then I used the same pan, threw some asparagus in with a splash of water, some butter, olive oil and a few lemon slices, and it just kind of all caramelized.
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2 p.m. Take a Descanso Gardens walkabout
After we’ve eaten, read some books and cleaned up, then it’s like, “What’s our big adventure for the afternoon?” So we pack it up and head out. We love going to Descanso Gardens. It’s so lovely and Zen and chill but also very pretty. Someone just told me about [the concept] of forest bathing where you just walk through the forest, and it sort of bathes you. So that’s the vibe. You’re kind of like taking a walk, and it sort of washes over you. Everything is so scheduled all week long. This is our chance to be 100% present and pay attention. We try not to use our phones.
5 p.m. Grab a 23-minute dinner out
If we’re not having people over for a meal, we like to do a 5 p.m. dinner — like we’re at the restaurant door the minute it opens and we’re in and out in about 23 minutes. We’ll order and sort of roam around the restaurant with Nico and sit down when the food is ready and ask for the check. We just did that at 顿辞苍苍补’, this new little Italian spot in Echo Park. We like the meatballs, chicken Parmesan and Caesar salad. And we recently did that at Otium, which has a 5 p.m. Sunday supper meal that’s served family-style. Our friend Tim Hollingsworth is the chef there, and he has four kids so he gets it. He’s not going to be offended. They do a fried chicken, and it’s served with mac and cheese and these beautiful mashed potatoes.
Above smog-laden Glendale, just moments from the roaring Foothill Freeway, lies a world of nothing but green coolness, bees, squirrels and flowers, ponds of gently floating ducks and bobbing fish--Descanso Gardens.
Another one we love is Raffi’s Place in Glendale. It’s this big, giant place with huge tables and 20 people per table. And everything is giant plates. It’s like you’re at some Armenian mom’s home. Their ground beef koobideh is my favorite. We also get the tadig, the eggplant dip and the dip that has the cucumbers in it.
6:30 p.m. Hit the fire pit for a family meeting
Once Nico goes down for the night, it’s mom-and-dad time, and we’ll go out and sit by the fire pit and catch up. Part of our standing life schedule is a Sunday family meeting, which is the time to talk about finances, schedules, travel, important things coming up, anything we need to talk about. It’s a great anchor for us. It’s not always a walk in the park because we go through all kinds of detailed schedules, and maybe somebody has to sacrifice doing something so the other person can do something. It’s personal. It’s marriage, but Casey is [Hedley & Bennett’s] chief creative officer so it’s also business. It’s not sexy but it’s damn important.
8 p.m. Zen shopping / fridge rezoning
If I haven’t gone to the farmers market, this is when I would go grocery shopping by myself, which is a very Zen thing for me to do; Trader Joe’s and/or 骋别濒辞苍’ or Bristol Farms. I’ll spend like an hour and a half walking literally every aisle. Then, I don’t know if you’ve seen this [on my Instagram], but I’m really into kitchen organization, so I basically empty out my fridge when it’s time to put all the groceries in and reorganize it by section. I do it for my own mental sanity and as a way to prepare for the week.
Drinks — milk, bottles of water and drinks of any kind go in the top right [side]. All of the cooked food goes on the far upper left. I think that’s critical because then you actually know where to look for food when you’re hungry vs. searching for a burrito that’s shoved somewhere. So that’s like the salmon I cooked earlier, leftover rice or oatmeal from breakfast. All those things are there, right? And they’re all stacked. Below that, I have all these little plastic bins I got at the Container Store that are for vegetables. I always have a ton of bell peppers, chiles and lettuces. Next to that I always have several jars of herbs — I just stand them up in little Mason jars with a little bit of water — epazote, cilantro, parsley, dill; kind of like a little forest in there. On the right is fruit. I like to keep apples and lemons in the fridge because they last longer.
The bottom drawer is for protein, which is good to put on the bottom because if anything drips it’s not going to cross-contaminate anything. The left of the bottom drawer is all cheese and dairy. Then on the other side of a little separator is all the raw protein. Once everything is put in its place, I go in with a bright pink marker and label that whole frickin’ fridge.
10 p.m. A cup of tea and maybe a spot of TV
Casey and I love to drink tea, so I’ll usually try to start winding things down with some tea, my evening vitamins and a shower, and I head to bed around 10. Sometimes if I can hear him watching TV in the other room, I’ll go out and watch TV for about 30 minutes, but that’s not the norm.
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