Meet A Local: Laura Ann of Laura Ann’s Jams
Meet our latest guest editor Laura Ann, founder and owner of Laura Ann’s Jams based in Echo Park. Punk rock drummer turned artisanal jam-making entrepreneur Laura Ann picks the best ingredients from local farms and comes up with flavor combinations that are specifically designed for food & drink pairing. Her jams are featured in many of Los Angeles’ top restaurants and bars. This former musician has turned jammin’ into a way life!
Tell us about Laura Ann Jams! How did you start your business?
Honestly, I was just practicing preserving techniques & flavor combos one year… I would bring all the jams I was making to work to sell them to my co-workers. My boss then bought a local breakfast restaurant and asked me to make their jams. I cooked out of the catering kitchen and made jams for the restaurant for about a year. The customers would go CRAZY over the jams and pretty much demand that I make smaller jars. I did and they put them on the shelf. Los Angeles Magazine came in; bought a jar, put it in a local jam taste test (of 60 local jam producers) and I won best local jam in the "BEST OF LA" issue.
When they called to fact check they asked me "where can we get your jams"? I answered "I work at the Redwood on Sundays for brunch behind the bar. I usually have some in my purse." They replied: "Ummmmmmmm. Could you MAYBE put up a website before this article runs? You kind of need to be a real business," so I did and that is the main source of my business, haha. THAT is the true story!
You were the subject of an Oprah Winfrey Network Original Short, “Jam Lady” – How did that come about and what kind of results did you get?
They called me. The lady on the phone was SUPER nice and just asked if "OWN" could do a short film about me blah, blah, blah - I said yes and had NO idea what "OWN" was. I Googled it and almost pooped my pants. That one was not 1/2 as exciting as when I got a call from my aunt on the east coast "I think I just heard your name on Jeopardy?" I said “oh no, you must have heard wrong.” Then my friends from Chicago called, then my mom in Arizona - then I watched it myself. To hear Alex Trebek say "Laura Ann's Jams..." was SO exciting. I can’t think of anything cooler. It was even DOUBLE Jeopardy and the category was "saleswomen". I just didn’t realize that I was a famous saleslady… Ha!
It's fun to see yourself on the TV (little or small,) but the best press is always online print. People can’t click on a link while watching TV. My business is online so my social media connections and doing shows like Unique LA or Artisanal LA or selling my jams at local rock shows is how I get my jam fans. The fact that Oprah herself (I'm SURE) watched and approved my little 1-minute short is exciting. I mean - not too many people in this world have her undivided attention for 1 minute. I love the fact that I might be walking down the street one day and a limo window might roll down and Oprah will yell out "HEY, Jam Lady!" and wave at me.
What is your favorite jam and cocktail to make during springtime?
A shot of Jameson. Just kidding!
Honestly, I get into citrus in the spring. We are just coming out of a GREAT citrus season now and I have JUST finished a new flavor in my "Greatest Hits" line of jams: Bourbon Blood Orange. I have been using that in a BUNCH of things: sangria, martinis, Old Fashioneds, etc. My new fav is: Nolet’s Gin, bourbon blood orange marmalade, a dash of homemade orange bitters (of COURSE I make my own bitters) and soda. There is something about all the herby flavors in Nolet’s combined with the subtle wood of the aged bourbon and the blood orange. It’s just jam-azing!
What do you love most about being a maker?
The moment that I see someone TRULY excited about eating or drinking something I have made. It is SO similar to music. It is an art. You make it for yourself - but when others enjoy it or "get" what you’re doing – THAT’S what its all about. Stay true to your tastes, believe in them, and then SHARE them. I'm just happy that my nerdiness can bring sweet smiles to people’s faces and inspire other culinary creations in chefs and mixologists.
Which of the Fare Trade’s April ingredients would you most like to try and why?
I know the all spice guys and LOVE that tapenade but if I were on an island, I would ALWAYS choose Rancho Gordo. Steve Sando is Mr. Bean. Oh, not the funny one from England - but the tasty one from Napa!
Local artisanal treat of choice?
Pickled by Hattie’s BB Spicy Pickles. I'm cracked out - for real. I work at a restaurant and rarely have anything in my fridge at home. So late night, I'm OFTEN found with my paw in a jar of Hattie’s pickles. I swear they keep me alive these days.
I also have a NEW love: PureNOLA they have a spicy granola to DIE for.
If you could be any cocktail what would you be and why?
There is no "could be" in my case. I AM part Manhattan. It is my family drink. Honestly, my family makes them in Sun Tea containers at family gatherings. I'm sure if a vampire drank my blood it would taste like a Manhattan and he would get a DUI.
@lauraannsjams on Twitter/ @lamasura on Instagram