The interview: Molly Baz
By Emily Bloch
Molly Baz is on her second cup of coffee this morning—but that’s all part of her routine.
First, a cozy almond milk cappuccino. Later, a cold brew when it’s time to kick things up. The cookbook author and recipe developer is sitting in her Altadena home in Los Angeles and just got done with a workout.
“I think something people don’t know about me is that I work out almost every day because of my job,” she says. “I’m constantly grazing and eating and tasting. It’s really important to me to build an appetite. I can’t develop recipes if I’m not hungry.”
Her hair is slicked into a low bun and she’s wearing a rust-hued Ilana Kohn jumpsuit. She’s recovering from late-night recipe developing for her upcoming second cookbook.
Before Baz even knew cooking was in her cards, breakfast was integral.
Growing up, her dad would wake up extra early to cook a hot meal before sending the kids off to school. Menu items included waffles, French toast, biscuits and eggs. Biscuits were shaped into Molly and her brother’s initials.
“It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how unique that experience was,” Baz says. “He wasn’t a scratch cooker. He used Bisquick, so Bisquick is very near and dear to my heart—the flavor is so nostalgic for me.”
To this day, when the Baz family gathers, Bisquick biscuits land on the table. “I’ve developed many recipes for buttermilk biscuits … made from scratch, objectively more delicious,” she says. “But they aren’t nostalgic like the ones that I grew up on.”
Experiences like that fuel her love for food and, naturally, breakfast—or as she calls it, B-Fast. We caught up with Baz to hear more about her love for the first meal of the day, her upcoming cookbook and everything else.
Whalebone: You mentioned this ritual where your dad made breakfast every day. Did that play a part in your career?
Molly Baz: It’s not like I’m opening up a diner or something, but I think that food is so nostalgic. A lot of the recipes that I’ve developed over the last—I don’t know how long I’ve been doing it, five or ten years— have been tied to specific taste memories that I’ve had. Your sense of taste is such a powerful one in bringing you back somewhere, the same way that music is, like when you hear a song that you haven’t heard in ten years, and it was a song that was on repeat at a certain phase of your life and all of a sudden you’re right back there. The same thing happens for me with food.
Food has the power to evoke memories & nostalgia– an emotional diary of your past.
WB: Do you have an example of a meal that’s done that for you?
MB: There’s this burrito from this little burrito stand in my hometown and I can almost picture exactly what it tastes like in my mind, even though I haven’t had it in ten years. But if I were to have it right now, I would go back there immediately; food has the power to evoke memories and nostalgia—an emotional diary of your past.
WB: Wow, that got deep. What’s one of your earliest recipes that you remember developing and being really proud of?
MB: I did a story for Bon Appétit—it was one of my first print features. It was for a column called “Dinner Tonight.” When I first started, pulling from my experience was the only way I knew how to develop a recipe. My earlier recipes are very near and dear to my heart.
WB: Let’s keep this theme going. Is there a breakfast item on a specific menu that continues to resonate with you?
MB: My dad and I went on a road trip through the South when I was just starting my career as a line cook, before I got into food media and recipe writing and development. We stopped at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was a drive-thru restaurant and all they made was biscuits. Growing up in upstate New York, I didn’t know that could even be a thing. You don’t see biscuits that often upstate and definitely not dedicated biscuit spots. So because of my love of biscuits my dad had passed on to me, I remember it being so special. I distinctly remember them being so fluffy and pull-apart-y. I was like “Oh, this is why everyone freaks out about biscuits.” We got biscuits with gravy at the drive-thru and that was when I peaked in life.
WB: Let’s jump to a perfect Sunday morning with you and your husband. Set the scene for us.
MB: Sunday morning is usually a later start—it’s the day of rest. Every day starts with a coffee before anything else; it’s part of building the appetite. I don’t like to eat first thing, I like to grow into my hunger. Our ideal Sunday morning, one that has been on repeat, would move from coffee into the breakfast-and-bloody-mary phase. Ben or I will make Bloody Marys, always from scratch—I think his Bloodies are better than mine.
Then I’ll make one of our favorite breakfasts. Ben’s all-time favorite breakfast, which I love to make for him when we have more time because we can enjoy it together, is a crunchwrap, which was a recipe that I developed a few years ago. People just really went bananas for it. It’s basically a flour tortilla with scrambled eggs, garlicky sour cream, dill pickles, fresh dill and sriracha. You put them inside the flour tortilla and then crisp it up in a skillet. It’s almost, maybe, a Middle Eastern adjacent breakfast burrito. It’s a light breakfast but bright because there are juicy pickles inside and then there’s fatty, garlicky, spicy sour cream, but it’s fresh because it’s herby. It’s perfect breakfast food. It’s not a four-pound burrito that you’re trying to plow through; there’s lots of acidity, lots of freshness. That’s the way I eat in general. And so that would be a classic Sunday morning. Coffee. Bloodies. Crunchwraps.
WB: What’s the most quintessential breakfast for NY vs. LA?
MB: New York, definitely a bagel. In my early twenties, every Saturday or Sunday I was running down to the bagel shop and getting a bagel: a bacon-egg-and-cheese or whatever. But the organizing principle of LA breakfasts is you’re having it in your home because you’re not walking out your door to the bagel shop.
WB: Time for FMK: Breakfast Cocktail Edition. Your contenders are mimosas, Bloody Marys and Irish coffees.
MB: Kill mimosas, for sure. I could not give a fuck about mimosas. Marry Bloody Mary because I’m already married to her. And fuck the Irish coffee, which I’ve probably only had twice in my life, but I see there’s a time and place for it—that’s something I want to play around with, but it’s also not spending much time in my life.
WB: You’ve been teasing some new projects. What can you tell us?
MB: There’s a second book in the works. It will come out fall 2023, which feels like forever from now, but it’s going to be amazing. I’m having so much fun working on it. It’s such a different experience the second time around. Another project I’m excited about is the wine company I’m launching with Andy Young of The Marigny. Andy’s a very well-known, established natural winemaker in Oregon. The company is called Drink This Wine. It’s out now with drinkable red wine and we’ll introduce other varietals down the line. It’s a pivot for me out of strictly food, but wine is such a big part of my life as well. I think it’s going to be really exciting.