August 4, 2009

Eye on LA: Sarah Counnas

As I answer these questions on LA and think about all the things that make it a great place to live, I can’t help but think that this was my “Plan B” and can’t believe how different my life would have been if I had not come out here from Denver in January 2000.

My “Plan A” was to move to Washington D.C. and pursue a career in international politics (my degree was in International Affairs & Japanese so I had long dreamed of a job at the International Trade Office or UN!). My plans to move to D.C. quickly fell apart and one homesick phone call to my brother in LA at the end of a long backpacking trip through Europe and I decided to make the move here.

I immediately met so many great people and eventually found a job selling software for the visual effects industry – one that would pave my career for almost a decade. My parents soon followed us out here and before I knew it, LA was home. I guess my preparation for Plan A wasn’t all for nothing - little did I know that a background in politics would be perfect training for the film industry or that I would come to know and love LA as much as I do.

Stage Name: Its only ever been Sarah (well, my former Japanese co-workers at the sushi bar in college called me “Sarah-chan”).

Neighborhood: Silverlake – though I spent many, many years in various parts of WeHo. Silverlake is awesome – I love the vibe and mix of people!

Day Job: Technology Production Manager (TPM) at DreamWorks Animation. I’m basically a liaison between our Technology groups and all the productions (& there are a lot!). Fortunately, I learned to speak both “Geek” and “Production” during my former days at Side Effects Software – its come in very handy!

Moonlight as: Whatever trouble I manage to get into in my off-hours. These days, I guess it would be “Auntie-Sarah”, amateur chef, wanna-be TV/movie critic and art connoisseur and sometimes world traveler.

Los Angeles is a: place I will likely always refer to as “home”. My entire family moved here shortly after I did from Denver, CO so this is it now.

One day in LA. Go: A quintessential LA day would be hiking in Griffith Park followed by seeing some great art at LACMA, sushi happy-hour and meeting up with friends for drinks and laughs until the wee hours.

Food/drink that is LA: Tacos, Astroburger, Hot Dogs - I was surprised how much junk food is prevalent here since I thought it would all be health foods given LA’s reputation.

Recipe please?: This is a crazy concoction I first put together for a friend’s brunch back in Denver – its one of my favorites! You can make it ahead and leave it covered in the fridge overnight before baking to make your brunch stress-free.

Sarah’s Southwestern Breakfast Casserole
1 tube chorizo
1 package flour tortillas (torn into pieces)
1 can whole green chilies
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can corn
1 cup shredded cheddar (or Mexican blend)
12 eggs
¼ cup cream (or milk)
Salt & pepper
Hot sauce
Sour Cream
Green Onions (chopped)

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Spray 8x10” casserole dish w/ cooking spray.
• Cook one tube of chorizo and drain liquids & fat; let cool.
• Combine eggs, cream, salt, pepper & hot sauce (to taste) and blend well.
• Spread out whole green chilies along bottom of casserole dish then assemble rest of casserole in the following layers: flour tortillas, chorizo, cheese, flour tortillas, corn, chopped green chilies, cheese, flour tortillas – then top with egg mixture and a little more cheese on top.
• Bake covered in foil for 35-45 minutes (or until eggs are set & cheese is melted).
• Can be served with salsa, sour cream and green onions for garnish.

Getaway from LA: My favorite local weekend getaway is Paso Robles for wine tasting. For longer trips, I’ve been known to go all over the world and seem to be always planning my next big trip (possibly Peru next!).

Cheap Eats LA: Lots of options - I'd say either India Sweets and Spices (full Indian meal for a couple of bucks) or Danny's Taco Truck downtown.

Hideout in LA: Burke Williams – nothing beats a day at the spa!

Clothing that is LA: Flip flops. I don’t think I even owned one pair when I lived back in Denver and now I’ve amassed quite a collection.

Scariest place LA: Oh, its so unpredictable here that there’s no use in defining a particular place – from the ‘hood to Beverly Hills, there’s all kinds of crazy crap going on out here!

Officially from LA when: You actually know where you are going. I was pretty much lost for my first year here (& that was before MapQuest!) – I realized I was truly a local when I not only knew my way around but could give others directions.

Green LA: I love to hike but end up sticking close to home – Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon or in Newberry Park (by my folk’s house).

K-Town or Thai Town? Thai Town for awesome Thai massage (Thai Sabai is my FAVORITE!) and lots of great Thai restaurants to grab a bite after – I love Tom Yung Gai (the lemongrass soup).

Beachside or Poolside? Well, I’m not really near either these days being out in Silverlake but nothing beats a day at the beach!

Happy Hour or After Hour? I think my After Hours days are long behind (but if you only knew me 10-15 years ago – wow!) but I’ve always loved a good happy hour. My current favorites are at Koda Sushi near Sunset Junction and Vinoteca Farfalla – though I’ve been wanting to check out Barbarella Bar and Barbrix (lets go sometime soon Eva!).

Hancock Park or Hollywood Hills? Love all the amazing houses in both – though these days I’m a bit more Hancock Park.

Speakeasy or Shake Your Sh**? Oh, shake it for sure! Love to go out dancing (& drinking) w/ my friends… always fun!


  1. This Sarah girl took me to breakfast in LA one time. Quite the experience that was complete with the best damn cake i've ever had. Um......YUM!

  2. That was the infamous Red Velvet Cake over at Doughboys - mmmmmmm!!!!

  3. I met Sarah in San Fran when she worked at SideFX. Smart lady, good industry contact.