A former drummer, Illinois native Laura Ann Masura played with indie-rock bands all throughout Chicago, before embarking cross country to Los Angeles in 2004. When the band she relocated with broke up shortly after arrival, she quickly realized she needed to draw upon a drummer’s ability to improvise.
Joining the service industry seemed a logical next step—a majority of L.A.’s hosts and waiters are artists, after all! And as part of a grander scheme to eventually open an all-natural hot dog stand, Laura Ann began reacquainting herself with the preserving skills taught to her by her grandmother, by making homemade mustard and relish for topping her gourmet franks.
It wasn’t long before she became especially inspired by the bounty of produce around her, including the oranges plucked from the trees in her backyard, which found their way into marmalade. That’s when jam-making became a certified obsession, as Laura Ann scoured local farms and farmer’s markets weekly, in search of inspirational fruits and herbs to turn into creatively flavored preserves.
Drawing on a built-in fan base of restaurant colleagues and members of Echo Park and Silver Lake’s eclectic music scene, she decided to sideline hot dogs and commit herself to jam-making full-time. And Laura Ann’s notoriety grew still further after a motorcycle accident in 2009, when crafting preserves became a form of therapy, and word spread to prominent news outlets (even Oprah ran a segment) about her improbable story.
Because to be sure, there’s a definite left-of-center, punk rock streak to Laura Ann’s jams, from the wild flavor combinations (Blackberry Bay Leaf, Bourbon Blood Orange, Raspberry Habanero), to her penchant for incorporating them into cocktails—think the “Artist’s Special,” starring a dollop of Manhattan Magic made with cherries, rye whiskey, and bitters.
Leave it to Laura Ann, to march to the beat of her own drum.