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Check Out Kat Turner’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat Turner.

Hi Kat, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve always loved to cook, but my true adventure in the mental insanity that is chef-life began in 2007 at my friend Miranda’s cafe “Flore” in Silver Lake. I was really hustling at the time; working as an actress and a burlesque dancer while selling luxe underpinnings at Agent Provocateur and helping Miranda out on the register at Flore, which had recently opened. In a twist of fate Miranda burned her hand on the line and she asked me to jump in to handle the busy lunch rush. From that moment on, I knew that cooking professionally was part of my greater calling in life. When the Hollywood writers strike coincided with the economic crash in 2008, I packed up and moved to NYC for a year to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute for Culinary Arts and take a long internship at Blue Hill. I then returned to LA and took a gig working as the private chef to Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. This time truly ignited my love for travel which radiated onward for nearly ten years cooking for numerous A-Listers all over the globe and eventually landed me on a mountain top in Utah working for the conference and event platform Summit Series.

It was at one of these conferences that I met my business partner Cary Mosier of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre. He asked me if I wanted to open a cafe in LA, and I flat out said “no”… and I thought I meant it! But after a few emails back and forth with my other partners Chelsea and Alex Matthews looped in I knew this was a rare opportunity with amazing people in a truly gorgeous space, the likes of which rarely come around in this industry. My no became a yes and Highly Likely came to life.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My ongoing joke is “why didn’t anyone tell me that running a restaurant is hard!?” I dove head-first into this project with very little practical restaurant experience, so essentially everything was a new skill to learn. Luckily my partner, Cary, is an operations guru after much success (and a few failures) at his other restaurants, and my other wonderful partners Chelsea and Alex always come to the table with creative strategy, but at the end of the day a restaurant that operates seven days a week 362 days a year is a force that needs constant care. Something is always breaking, someone is always late, some essential ingredient didn’t get delivered, and someone always seems to be mad at me.

To that point, building and tending to a team is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve had, and the last year was especially hard. Highly Likely never closed, and like many other restaurants, we made every pivot we could to stay afloat. My team that stayed on in the BOH and FOH were not only helping to keep our lights on and keep food on their tables, they were helping each other to stay sane. We all worked nearly every damn day, in PPE, behind plexi, often nervous and on edge, checking the new rules and CDC announcements, getting tested, etc… but through it all we got to know one another and did our best to support each other through covid, and protests, and politics all the while making some of the best coffee and food in town and keeping our loyal guests caffeinated and happy.

I am eternally grateful and feel lucky to have such an incredible and evolving crew, at the end of the day a restaurant only runs if the people there are cared for and I do my best to support our staff and in turn, our guests.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Having grown up in Wisconsin, my food, at its core, speaks to comfort and familiarity. However, after so many years of extensive travel and working all over the map, I’ve been found a style that weaves threads of bold flavor through what might otherwise be a common dish, naming them and calling out their origins… Yuzu Kosho and Koji from Japan shows up in the “Fish Don’t Have Fingers” sandwich, S’chug from Yemen is slicked across toasted Bub n Grandma’s focaccia and tops our “Breakfast Sando”, and Red Chermoula by way of Morocco is massaged into brassicas for our “Not Another Kale Salad”. I enjoy introducing our guests to flavors they may not have experienced before and sparking conversations around them. At highly likely, I’m proud to have created a menu that is not only a reflection of my experiences but one that also serves and nourishes our diverse community every day.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
We love our pop-ups at Highly Likely! We just hosted our friends from Remix soft serve for our three years anniversary, which was a slam dunk! And in the past, we have burgers, tri-tip, french bread pizza, flower trucks, hot chicken, book sales, arepas… the list goes on. If you have a concept that you think would be a good fit please hit us up! I thrive on collaboration.

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Image Credits:

John Von Pamer Jeff Mindell Myra Hasson

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