WHEN MARISSA HERMER of Bravo’s Ladies of London moved back to SoCal earlier this year, she dressed her three young kids and herself in proper English attire (her boys in button-down shirts, trousers and dress shoes) for an outing on the Santa Monica Pier, where visitors typically aren’t known for their sartorial splendor. “I experienced such a level of culture shock,” says Hermer, “which is ridiculous, since I grew up here.”
Hermer did, indeed, spend her childhood in Laguna and Newport before heading off to Middlebury College in Vermont. After graduation, she began a public relations career that took her to New York and London, where she met English restaurateur and nightclub owner Matt Hermer. She moved to London in 2009 and became a key part of the family business. She eventually opened her own restaurant, Top Dog.
Then in 2014, Ladies of London came calling. She declined the offer several times. Then Matt asked, “Why don’t you do it?” She starred in all three seasons (the show ended in 2016), with her high-risk pregnancy (Sadie is doing fine) providing nail-biting drama on the final season. The pregnancy—which allowed her few activities other than cooking—also provided fodder for her newly published cookbook, An American Girl in London ($17, Rodale), featuring traditional British favorites with a healthy California twist. (Think salmon Wellington, for example.)
The family spent several summer vacations in Newport Beach, and then planned a six-month stay in Pacific Palisades, which quickly became permanent. While they still own restaurants and a home in London, plans are in the works now to open dining establishments in West L.A. and O.C.
In the meantime, Hermer enjoys frequent jaunts back to O.C.—her mom lives in Newport; her dad in Laguna Beach—breakfast at the Penguin Cafe in Laguna, a Fun Zone afternoon on Balboa with the kids or a sunset Duffy cruise around Newport Harbor with chips, guacamole and Coronas. “The West Coast is home now,” she says. “I love the change in lifestyle, that we’re right on the ocean and I have sand in my toes.”