Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Rose Hopkins and Henry Fischer.
Henry Fischer and Anna Rose Hopkins, Hank [the Tank] and [A Human] Bean respectively, met at Son of A Gun Restaurant in the winter of 2014, where Fischer was CDC. Hailing from Germany – with roots in Eastern Europe and Russia – Fischer evoked an old world intensity that captured Hopkins’ attention. He had recently returned from his second stint at Noma in Copenhagen, and his singular passion for all things culinary had already seen him many times around the globe in pursuit of knowledge and a chance to hone his skill. Hopkins, a self-taught chef, had cut her teeth in the kitchens of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Hamptons with Momofuku alum Lauryn Tyrell, now Associate Food Editor at Martha Stewart Living. Hopkins’ background in devised narrative performance informed her kitchen story, as she sought to bridge the gap between food as a commodity and food as an object of appreciation with deep cultural implication. Hopkins also developed an ethos of food as medicine, which drove her to serve healing, restorative foods to the Los Angeles community of new moms, athletes, and folks struggling with chronic conditions. Fischer was impressed by Hopkins’ natural ability, discerning palate and can-do spirit.
After years of late night dining in Koreatown, SGV and the San Fernando Valley, Fischer and Hopkins decided to join forces and together imagine a cuisine of place informed by their personal histories, travels, and their individual relationships to the Mediterranean / Desert hybrid that is Los Angeles. Fischer’s dynamic experience grounds the culinary collaboration and Hopkins’ compassionate approach to food and environment is the engine that drives their exploration.
Hank and Bean, located in the Arts District DTLA, provides event planning, catering, wedding services, and weekly bespoke private chef services to the greater Los Angeles region. Additionally, they host and prepare a theme and place-based popup series around DTLA.
Has it been a smooth road?
Nothing about a chef’s life is smooth! It’s an uneven, terrifying, and frequently a full-throttle experience that offers incredible reward to the bold and persistent. Beyond the challenges of cooking, we must constantly adapt to new schedules, new palates, new food trends, and even new workspaces as we are often onsite at a host’s location. Nothing about what we do is static, so we are moving through physical and meta-physical impediments daily. Of course, all the resistance and struggle does inevitably bring us to a place of greater clarity and strength of purpose.
As one half of this duo and as a woman, certainly, the generic chef / small business struggle is magnified for me. I can’t tell you how many times clients and peers look past me and direct their inquiries instead to my male partner. And I can’t fault anyone personally! Our culture (ESPECIALLY as it relates to the culinary universe) is still totally pre-conditioned to seek out a male authority for definitive instruction. So that can create some tension, even at times a sense of competition, inside of our partnership.
If I have any advice to doll out to young women, it is to be vocal, present, insistent and patient. I don’t recommend disseminating information that is untested or untrue, but if you do have an answer / a hunch / an intuition / a suggestion, practice owning that and don’t be afraid to speak up. Defend your position in the room. The reality is – male/female/non-binary – none of us knows everything or is correct all the time. Cooking is part science, but it is also part emotion and memory and taste and experience, and a lot of that gets pretty subjective. So fight for your seat at the table!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Hank and Bean – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our name begins to describe our idiosyncratic presence in the marketplace: Inspired by our childhood nicknames (Hank the Tank) and for me (Bean), our name also plays on the strengths we as individuals bring to the partnership. Fischer (Hank) is in some ways the brawn – he’ll do the nose to tail butchery; he’ll get funky with ferments; he’ll do much of the heavy lifting. Meantime, Hopkins (Bean) is definitely the legume! She has a lighter touch, focusing on fresh/trending, plant-based foods and the healing modalities of their mission.
We are most proud of our efforts to weave our personalities and ethics into what we produce. We could make a lot more dough simply cooking Western European style fancy foods for the litany of LA soirées, or cooking primarily salmon and beef. That’s what people generally think they want! But we work really hard to resist these norms. We’ve been developing relationships with farmers of our region who practice dry-farming, for instance, like the Tehachapi Grain Project and Fat Uncle Farms (not just almonds anymore!!). We’ve teamed up with a tiny goat dairy nearby called Angeles Crest Creamery who can provide insanely high-quality whole animals who experience actual free-range lifestyles fed on primarily high-desert forage. We follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watchlist to help us determine what sustainable fish we should be sourcing and when. And beyond all that, we have earmarked a good chunk of time this year to work with environmental artist Marina Zurkow and Professor Allison Carruth of the Laboratory for Environmental Strategies at UCLA on exploring the foods of our region as climate change plays an increasingly pronounced role. We’ve literally been experimenting in our free time with crickets, mealworm, and jellyfish.
We know the future is coming, so we are trying really hard to use our position as chefs to educate and inspire our diners and our community.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
Stigma, history, and habit. Breaking the glass ceiling hurts, and so it requires a steely sort of conviction. We have to make our voices heard, our presence felt. We have to do this and then repeat and then repeat and then repeat until nobody can imagine a time when we weren’t in the foreground.
- Address: Hank and Bean
(at Crafted Kitchen)
672 S Santa Fe Ave
LA CA 90021
- Website: hankandbean.com
- Phone: (323) 813-5125
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @hankandbeanla
Robyn Von Swank