Bronwen Tawse was standing in her kitchen, trying to replicate an Armenian recipe her husband, Peter Bahlawanian, had adored as a child, when she realized she had a big problem. She had tried to find such exotic spices as Aleppo pepper and urfa biber but to no avail, even in a city as diverse as Los Angeles. That’s when Tawse and her concert promoter husband had a revelation: There was no one place in Los Angeles that reliably offered high-quality spices from all over the world. In 2009, the couple opened the Spice Station, just down an alley off Sunset Boulevard. Today Spice Station is the go-to source for such richly hued substances as Sichuan peppercorns, spicy ghost pepper, Alaca red salt from Hawaii and royal mahogany cocoa from the Dominican Republic—about 200 aromatic offerings in all.
TakePart Tastemakers: Spice Station
And the couple has since expanded their inventory to include salts, sugars, house-made spice blends, and over 40 types of chiles. Running a jewel-like shop that can only stock small quantities of fresh spices at one time means that Tawse and Bahlawanian now find themselves hopping on planes to scour farflung countries to pick up the best ingredients available. What’s most surprising? The pricing. While supermarkets might sell tarragon for about $17 an ounce, Spice Station offers it for $3. Why ever reach for factory-processed spices again?