Inside L.A.'s only cookbook store

Despite being the second most populous city in the United States and home to what some would argue is the finest food culture in the country, Los Angeles suffered for years from a drought of cookbook stores. The beloved Cook's Library closed its doors in 2009, and it took almost a decade for another cookbook store to emerge. That store, called Now Serving, opened in late 2017 and has become a haven for cookbook lovers and chefs in the area

Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungal
Now Serving cookbook store owners Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungcal, and their daughter, Frankie. (photo courtesy Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Former chef Ken Concepcion and his wife, Michelle Mungcal, brought the store to life after Ken hung up his chef's whites. He worked in a variety of top L.A. restaurants including Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse Cut, where he served as chef de cuisine. Concepcion envisioned the space for his bookstore as a place that chefs would want to hang out in on their days off. 

The small space is packed with a well-curated selection of top cookbooks, ceramics, and chef's tools. Cookbook authors from near and far come to the tiny store for talks and book signings; recent guests include Dorie Greenspan and Magnus Nilsson. While Concepcion brings his chef sensibilities to the location, he isn't exactly a stranger to bookstores, since he worked in one for two years after graduating from college. "They gave us an employee discount, and all I bought was cookbooks," he recalled. 

It's exciting to learn about new cookbook stores and it makes me wish that I had travel plans that would put me in Los Angeles soon so I could browse the stacks of books (the fact that it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit and snowy here makes the prospect of L.A. even more enticing). If you are in the city, be sure to head over to Now Serving to see the wonderful collection and chat with the owners. The store is open five days a week, but is closed on Tuesdays and open only by appointment on Wednesdays. 

Now Serving's events are always shared on our calendar. And their top selling cookbooks of 2018 were included in our cookbook stores' bestsellers lists. Ken also supplied his personal top-rated cookbooks of last year.

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