Life with Arielle Skye Moss and Christopher Jerome Moss
After selling their handmade bagels from the back of Arielle Skye Moss’s bike, and then later at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, Skye Moss and her husband, Christopher Jerome Moss, opened Courage Bagels’ doors in the former home of Super Pan panaderia in Los Angeles in the fall of 2020. From there, the success of Courage took off. With homegrown bagels that emphasizes natural fermentation, seasonal ingredients, and artful open-faced presentation, they established a whole new community for bagels in LA. And created a gathering point for friends and like-minded people.
Text by Ditlev Fejerskov, Photos by Rob Fraebel
What did influence you as a child?
Christopher Jerome Moss: My father died when I was five years old. My sister and I asked the adults where he went. No one could explain. After much contemplation I had a powerful realization: adults didn't know anything. If I wanted to know something, I would need to figure it out on my own. Today I have a certain distrust of the way things are done if I haven't really gone over it carefully myself.
What about when you got older?
CJM: As a young person my aunt, who was a teacher, arranged for me to be an exchange student in France. I felt at home for the first time – the clothes, the people the food – every moment was exquisite. The cars, the way people drove, the clothes they wore to the airport, the sense of sensuality in all things. Coarse linen sheets, flowers blooming at night, dining tables set on the grass by a creek, cooking trout over fire, restaurants that were people’s homes.
Who were your early heroes in food or what else were your interests?
CJM: My dad was called "Cookie" by his mother. I don't know who he was but every day I try to find out. He left clues. He was a food writer; he had a cooking show on NBC radio. He made hundreds of short, 1–2-minute, cooking programs in which he would so perfectly and quickly and with humor describe just the right way to fry a zucchini blossom, debone a lamb leg or explain the physics of eggnog. At the beginning of each episode, I would wonder how he could get through everything in just a page. Economy. Like a dancer – he never wasted one move.
Where did you get the interest in food from, Arielle?
Arielle Skye Moss: I’ve always been curious about food and the way it relates to health – many fond memories of summers in my grandparent’s garden, my sister was always cooking and revealing exciting new foods to me. But it really wasn’t until I met Christopher that food took on a whole new meaning in my life.
What have been the most memorable moments with food?
ASM: Eating blini and caviar for the first time. Buckwheat crepes on a chilly morning made by Christopher. Peak summer market peaches. Lobster tails, spinach, and mashed potatoes the night before our wedding. Eating horta in Greece daily last summer. And of cause my grandmother’s strawberry jam.
How did you get the idea to Courage Bagels?
ASM: It came from something and nothing – a need to support myself, to grow, to push myself, to mature, to create community, to create the world I wanted to live in. To make art.
What inspired you in the beginning?
ASM: I don’t think inspiration is one clear thing, its many things mushed together in your mind and coming out as something else. I was inspired by where I was at in my life, by my need to grow, inspired by Christopher, inspired by old Europe, by getting to use my hands, by books, by stories of success, by making people happy. And the need of slowing down and learning something new.
What is your philosophy when it comes to making the bagels?
CJM: Use the best ingredients. Learn to recognize them, fall in love with them, and care for them. Most people have no idea how to treat a tomato!
At a certain age I noticed something amazing in my mother. She was an exceptional cook, but like many home cooks, she was full of hits and misses. If you asked for pancakes one day, they would be lacy edged delicate clouds, and the next day, kind of flat and chewy. When I would ask her what she had done differently, she had no idea! I began watching her closely and writing everything down. I found patterns, and what I mostly found in her actions, and later my own – is that almost everything truly great, is not someone’s idea. Something truly great occurs when we run out of ideas, or are too exhausted to have an idea, and instead we have an accident. It's like, that’s the moment when the light can crack though the repetition of the mind, and something truly extraordinary happens. I think the best thing you can do is be ready to make a huge error and have it be the best thing you ever did.