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Jan. 7, 2023

Seattle Community Cookbook Surviving The Pandemic with Sarah Monson


Chef Sarah Monson was in misery at a butcher shop, then all of a sudden, with the pandemic on the horizon, every person in the restaurant industry lost their job overnight. She tells a story of how inspiration comes from some of the darkest places. Like many cooks and chefs, Sara lost her job. At the beginning of the pandemic, she overcame adversity and rose to the challenge of creating "“The Cookbook”, connecting  chefs across Seattle. She had an idea to create a community cookbook that gave purpose to so many restaurant workers who were out of work. The recipes came from the heart and souls of chefs and cooks in Seattle. Listen as Sarah tells her story and reveals how many ways you can be an artist. You don't need a brush or a pencil, a whisk or spoon will do! 

Seattle Community Cookbook: https://cowbell-octahedron-d87r.squarespace.com/
Contact Sarah Monson:  ssmonsonn@gmail.com
IG: @smonson

Season2

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Transcript

Michael Dugan:

Today on the show, I want to introduce you to another Seattle chef, originally from the central coast of California. Now, she's a Seattle based sous chef from Manolin. She's a creator of a local recipe series called the cookbook. And today we're going to talk about what happened during the pandemic and how this cookbook evolved. Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah Monson:

Thank you so much, Michael. I'm really excited to be here.

Michael Dugan:

So can you tell us a little bit take us take us back in your life to kind of the beginning Did you have an early connection to food or a special dish or memory?

Sarah Monson:

I think that my beginnings in food are pretty standard for a middle class Californian family. I grew up with a father that worked nights and I have three siblings. My mom was the one who was left to do a lot of the family cooking for us. She wasn't the most creative cook hi mom if you're listening out there. But so and you know under her, we ate a lot of spaghetti and meatballs, taco night. You know that that kind of very utilitarian style of feeding a crowd on the cheap. So it didn't really dawn on me until later in my life when my dad retired from his night job that he was able to be home during dinnertime and I didn't really realize before then that he isn't an incredible cook and he's very creative and he likes to try new things. I grew up in the kind of family where we had dinner at 6pm on the.on the table every single night. I was expected to be there without exception so I always had a family dinner at home with my mom and my dad and my siblings. So they always instilled in us this kind of like community driven like we are here we're going to break bread together, have a family dinner, talk about our day kind of you know come together as a family and do this thing. But it wasn't until my dad started cooking. And he would sit down and after trying whatever it is that he had made for the night would start kind of like nitpicking and saying like, Oh, I would do this differently. Or if I was going to do this again. I would do such and such. So that's when I started to realize that food can be nuanced and improved upon and tweaked and you can you can play with it. And I think that that's where my interest in food started was listening to my dad critique his own dishes and realizing that that, you know, there's room for growth with cooking and I think that's where it all began.

Michael Dugan:

It's funny, I think about it. And I think back now talking about this, we ate dinner at 630 on the dot. And it was the family meal and everybody was there and I lived on a lake when I was young and my dad used to get really upset because I would go fishing and it would be so hard to pull me from the lake at dinnertime. You know I'd always make it back by 630. What age were you if you can remember where you really got excited about cooking and you really started to think about playing with your food?

Sarah Monson:

I think maybe about 16 17 That's kind of the age where I was left at home alone more often and going through the fridge and kind of just having a see like alright, what do I what do I have in here and honestly like watching a lot of Food Network shows at the time was a big draw for me like seeing these, like those silly kind of cheesy chopped and like Iron Chef type shows people being like incredibly creative, and I kind of that really appealed to me senior year of high school you know around that like 17 18 year old age I took one of those like home ec cooking classes I think that that's when I just really latched on to it as a as a form of creative expression. I suppose. It it became really interesting to me after that point because I could make something out of nothing and that that really stuck with me.

Michael Dugan:

When would you say did you get the chef bug where you felt like you know, I really want to go in this direction. I want to learn more about food. You know a lot of us get pulled into the restaurant business and I remember that experience and how did that happen for you?

Sarah Monson:

It's definitely a draw. I think that there is it's a draw for a lot of people and I definitely think that happened to me after that culinary or that you know, cooking class I took while I was in high school. I was like oh this is this is cool. I want to I want to learn more about that. You know, I remember having the conversation with my parents and telling them like I want to go to culinary school I want to explore this world and then telling me no we want you to go the more traditional route academia or going to college like that's what we've always planned for you and I think that I just sort of like fell in line and went that route for a little while. I took a couple years worth of courses at a community college. It didn't feel right to me. And ever since I was old enough to have a job I worked in restaurants granted they were like a sandwich shop Mom and Pop cafes and like that type of thing. But like I've been in the restaurant or hospitality industry since I was 16 years old. And I remember my older brother who you know, had gone through like working in pizza shops and ice cream parlors and that kind of thing telling me like you're gonna hate it. This is the last food industry job you'll ever have. It's the worst and joke's on him. It's been a long time and I'm still doing it. So I think that it was just kind of like a natural progression for me,

Michael Dugan:

you know when you talk about schooling and briefly talked about this, but did you actually go to cooking school? Did you attend any kind of formal cooking classes?

Sarah Monson:

I did end up there, I guess in sort of a roundabout way. I went to the community college in my hometown San Luis Obispo after graduating from Roadrunner high school you know just kind of decided that was like where I should go and took a couple years worth of classes and then finally just decided like, I'm wasting my time and I'm wasting my money here on something that I don't necessarily feel passionate about. And I felt this draw to do something else. So I kind of just made this decision to pack everything I owned and drive up the coast and move my life to Seattle and attend Seattle Culinary Academy when I turned like about 22 So around eight years ago now.

Michael Dugan:

Where's that located? Because I went to South Seattle Community College. It was a really good cooking school.

Sarah Monson:

Their sister schools. Okay, so Seattle Culinary Academy is inside of Seattle Central which is on Capitol Hill like right on Broadway like in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Michael Dugan:

And just for our listeners around the world, we're talking about Seattle, Washington, which is on the west coast of the US. It's also known as the Pacific Northwest. So just want to give a reference point there because we have listeners all over the world. Right, which is awesome. Yeah, it's it's really exciting. You know, I've connected with a bunch of them. And it's just it's great to share the stories in these messages around the world. Can you take us through your culinary journey after cooking school? What happened then?

Sarah Monson:

My color journey essentially started while I was in culinary school. I only made it through a couple of quarters and I decided I wanted to get a job in a restaurant. I think I was working as a barista at a time and finally decided like alright, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this. So my third quarter of culinary school. One of my chef at the time, my chef instructor, I should say, had a heard of a job opening and recommended it to me, I guess he thought I had something. So I took a Stosh which is what we consider in like the culinary community, kind of like a trial shift. You go in for, you know, the day or so and you bring your knives and you kind of like fake work in this restaurant to show him your chops and might get it you might not. I ended up landing that job screw that was at a restaurant. Yeah, it was awesome. I was mighty proud of myself at that time. Should be. Yeah, it was at a restaurant called tilth here in Seattle. They're there now defunct, which was a huge loss in during the pandemic they ended up closing down, which was painful, because that was the restaurant where I definitely like cut my teeth. In the finer dining style of cooking it was the first time that I really was cooking on that level. And you know, I learned a lot and I failed a lot but it was an incredible experience for me. So while I was in culinary school, I was also working at this at the time at a very demanding restaurant for me. I can't remember being so tired. before in my life. Yeah, it was exhausting. But that was a start and after graduating culinary school, I moved on to a restaurant here in Seattle called lark, I spent some time there. And then you know, ever since then I've just kind of moved on from nice restaurant to a nice restaurant working with and for some really talented people and learning a lot along the way. You know, worked for Renee Erickson at Bar Melusine just like have worked in some pretty rad restaurants and I'm very proud to have on my resume. I've definitely learned a lot over the past couple of years and honed a lot of skills. Definitely come a long way, you know, making sandwiches when I was 16. So it's been a it's been a pretty cool trajectory for sure.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah. What would you say is your most memorable place that you've worked. Out of the whole journey?

Sarah Monson:

Oh, that's so fun. That's a fun question. There have been an awful lot of really memorable places. I think that the memorability of these places boils down to the people that I spent time with during that time and like the actual restaurant itself. I've met so many incredible people along the way and fostered so many relationships. A lot of the times when you're in the hospitality industry and you're working in restaurants, you form these tight bonds with people you know, that's usually based on proximity, right? You see these people every single day you work long shifts with them. And then when you end up not working for that restaurant anymore, that relationship kind of falls out.

Michael Dugan:

You know, Sarah , it's also what you go through,

Sarah Monson:

It is yes, it is very special. It's a huge right you know, in in the restaurant business, you work these long hours and and you survive that dinner rush. It's hard to explain unless you've been through it. It's almost like you're in a war zone sometimes, you know, you're so bonded to people in the restaurant business and you do bonding experience. I would say maybe my my time at lark was the you form these really tight relationships and it's really most memorable because of the people that I was with at the special. time. The people I was working with at that restaurant have gone on to do some incredible things. So awesome. Right. You know, Mitch Mayers is who was the CDC while I was there went on to open Sawyer and Ballard and Ben Campbell, who's an incredible Baker now opening his own brick and mortar, baking bread and David Gurewitz of Le Dive on Capitol Hill, which is an incredible natural wine bar. Like everybody kind of like, branched out and did these just like really inspiring projects. And it was cool to know that I was there at this like boiling point time of like, everybody kind of branched off and did these awesome things. And it really, proud to come from that background and know these people, I suppose.

Michael Dugan:

I've heard about a lot of these restaurants and I need to visit some of them. Now. You know, as we wind down with a pandemic, because we believe it's going to end right if I don't visit a restaurant. I get takeout to support local restaurants. Always. Brian, I'll tell you, Oh, well, let's talk about Brian. So we talked about amazing people in the restaurant business. How did you meet Brian?

Sarah Monson:

Brian O'Neill was a very chance encounter, I guess you could say. I was planning to get lunch with my friend, Austin. And she was for whatever reason, really craving like a crab. Roll. Like it just helped like stuck in her mind but like that's what it was that she wanted for lunch. We plan to go to Rays Cafe which is where her now fiance works to go get one that they had on special. They ended up selling out before we could get there for lunch. So we had to pivot but she was like dead set on eating this particular sandwich, I suppose. And we you know, went on the internet and searched around to see who in the city it was serving a similar thing and it happened to be our harbor. Yes, in South Lake Union. We kind of just wandered into the bar that day. Brian was working and I don't know we'd kind of we all just hit it off and the rest is history. He's an incredible athlete, interesting human. We just kind of formed the friendship.

Michael Dugan:

So a lot of fun. I really I really enjoy him. I work in the building. Right? You know, I come down after work. I was just thinking about this the other day. I was there on Thursday at work in downtown Seattle. And Bar Harbor is such a great seafood restaurant because they import lobster from Maine and the owner actually has a connection I think to the to the fishmongers and fishermen in Maine has a direct connection so it's really fresh and I swear I walked out of the elevator coming down from work and this guy was carrying a lobster roll and I just about died because I was so hungry. I had to rush you know out of the building literally because I knew if I didn't know it circle back and and daughter when but my wife and I already had dinner, you know, she was making dinner so but it's like so torturous sometimes working in that building. Brian laughs at me sometimes because I crave their food. I mean, I just crave it because it's so good and so fresh. I was so curious how you met him. Yeah, that's that's really cool. Let's move forward a little bit and let's talk about what happened. Everyone has a different story Believe it or not, I started this podcast because I woke up one day at the beginning of the pandemic and I realized that chefs needed a voice. And that's the whole reason that voice for chefs was created but you have a different story. I know that at the beginning of the pandemic you got laid off, it was out of your control and you didn't do anything wrong. It's just the pandemic right. Sure. When that happened, can you kind of take us through what happened during that time and what led you to launching this amazing series of cookbooks?

Sarah Monson:

Yeah, right when we were starting to hear these like inklings of COVID and you know, where it was popping up in the news and nobody quite knew like what was going on? And we everybody kind of had that feeling of like, oh, it's not going to come over here. You know, that's like an over there, sort of problem and we'll be okay like in our beginning, naive mindset that this wasn't going to become a global issue. I was working at this butcher shop slash restaurant up in like Lake City Maple Leaf kind of area. I had only been there for a couple months, I had just left my job with sea creatures and was hoping to learn a little bit more about nose to tail butchery hoping to expand my knowledge a little bit in that regard. So I took this job at this butcher shop. I ended up doing brunch with them and I was fucking miserable. Perfect. I was fucking miserable. I hated the job, but I'd already left a pretty good job to move over to this one where I thought I was going to learn something but I clearly wasn't going to. It was just the switch was not panning out the way that I had hoped. And so we are hearing these inklings of COVID, Coronavirus, all of these things, not really thinking that it's going to reach us and then it did as we all know it did back in March of 2020. When Jay Inslee, the governor here in Seattle if you weren't aware for listeners, you know, announced that all restaurants were shutting down effective immediately. Every single person that I know in my life lost their job overnight, which is an incredibly interesting experience because like when you are entrenched in the restaurant industry,

Michael Dugan:

It's not it's not like you don't have enough shit to deal with being. Exactly. Think about it. People aren't aware how hard this business is. God

Sarah Monson:

They're not it's it's incredibly difficult and you know, all of a sudden, every single person that I knew was without a job, myself included and it was just like this really weird Limbo time. I remember. So all the restaurants just got shut down effective midnight on like, whatever March day that was right. So I live right down the street from a big Mario's, which is like a pizza bar joint. And it's like a pretty well known like industry Hangout. And so because the shutdown was going into effect at midnight, that night, per the announcement from the local government, every single person I knew showed up at that bar. Just like trying to get the last of it in before we were all locked down in quarantine for the next however long, you know, and the government had said, you know, two weeks to flatten the curve. We're just going to do this for the next two weeks. And I remember all these people that I'm surrounded with line cooks, servers, bartenders, what have you all saying how am I going to survive financially for the next two weeks? That was our concern at the time was like two weeks was like a death sentence for hospitality workers. And that just goes to show you how paycheck to paycheck these these workers live their lives. That two weeks was like, a knife in the chest like we had no idea how to move forward like sitting at the bar. Everybody had their phones out signing up for welfare assistance just like trying to ensure that we're going to have a paycheck because we weren't going to make rent otherwise.

Michael Dugan:

That is total bullshit. It's so unreal how, how low the wages are and how hard people work in the restaurant business. It just rips me apart inside and I left the industry eventually. I loved it just like you. I was so passionate. I wanted to own a restaurant. And then I just felt horrible about it. You know, it's just the hours oh my god the hours were just insane and and to add the pandemic to that. I mean, that's a such bullshit, right It's so unfair. It's so unfair.

Sarah Monson:

it was a brutal realization. It was really tough. But then, you know, we kind of all had to do you know what we did and all jobless we kind of all quarantined and all of our restaurants shut down. So what happened. I almost felt relieved that I didn't have to return to this restaurant that I really was not enjoying my time at so I was like, Okay, well, at least I don't have to go back there. But then it kind of offered me some time to step away from the industry and sort of reevaluate my relationship with it. And consider the things about the industry that I really did not like and it was you know, a couple of months of me thinking like okay, do I really even want to go back there? Like do I want to put myself back in that situation where. I know that it's toxic and the hours are long and you know you're there for 12 hour days you don't get paid very much like you know sexual harassment and low wages like exploitative like working environments, like you name it, that's that that stuff was alive and well in the industry before the pandemic it's it's still is today, you know, things are changing and things are getting better but you know, it's a tough industry to work in and after, you know, a month or so of just not having a job and just sitting and thinking on it. Kind of changed my perspective of how I view this industry. All of our restaurants shut down so what happens with all the food?

Michael Dugan:

I had no idea. Right?

Sarah Monson:

Because otherwise it's going to rot. You know, right? We can't sell it at the restaurant. It's just going to lay to waste. So I ended up bringing home a ton of food. And you know, we had crab cakes. Oh my god! I'm cooking all of these things. And I'm considering my position in the industry and whether or not I want to go back to it and pinpointing all of the things that I found as negatives but also thinking about what what I missed about it. And the things that I missed most was the sense of community that you got from working in the restaurant industry.

Michael Dugan:

I miss that. I've been around a long time. Yeah, it is incredible. It's an incredible You can't put a price on it .

Sarah Monson:

You can't you can't put a price on the commradery. You can't put a price on the sense of community. It's an incredible feeling being involved in something like that. And I was really missing it. You made all kinds of kinds working in the hospitality industry. I was just kind of missing that a lot and thinking about my cook friends and cooking all of these things at home. And sort of just wondering like, what is everybody else cooking at home like I wonder what everybody else is doing with this time and so that's kind of how the idea for the original first volume of the cookbook came about.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah, what's amazing

Sarah Monson:

Was cooking all these this food at home from this restaurant that I had to raid to. So the food wouldn't spoil because all these restaurants are now like empty and there's no people in them, you know, kind of trying to find a way to reconnect with the restaurant community. Even though we couldn't be together physically cooking or you know, with each other. So I sent out a call to my fellow industry folks, and I wanted them to send me handwritten recipes, because that's what we do. Yeah, that's what we do. In the restraunt industry is we carry around notebooks.

Michael Dugan:

oh my god, I lost one of my books. I was devastated.

Sarah Monson:

It's heartbreaking when you lose one. But, you know, we all carry these moleskin notebooks around writing down these recipes and everybody's got one it almost acts as sort of like a journal for the restaurant that you're working in. And I kind of wanted to, you know, metaphorically take a page out of that book, and have people send me their handwritten recipes. So I put a call out to my community. Originally it was supposed to be like a printed at home stapled together sort of like very punk like very DIY sort of thing. But I got so much response that it ended up being an actual printed by a print shop like for sale cookbook. And the rest I guess from there is sort of history.

Michael Dugan:

So what was the response? Like I mean, your expectations were probably low.

Sarah Monson:

Floor Yes, I had the most would receive like 10 recipes. Okay. But I think for the first volume I ended up getting 45 Wow. Which you know, a fair amount of effort for everybody to put in and pull together and it was really cool. A lot of word of mouth people telling other people like hey, this girl Sarah is doing this like thing you know, do you want to participate and love it? Totally. And like at the time nobody else had anything else going on? We were all just like sitting at home. So it sort of worked out as like a perfect storm like it was, you know, the zeitgeist was optimal for that sort of thing at the time. It was it was community building, bringing people together. You know, the highlight was on hospitality workers at the time, because we were, you know, considered essential and everybody's trying to back, you know, hospitality workers and small restaurants and small businesses. So it was kind of like the perfect storm for something like this to be successful.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah. And so as you were going along, were there any challenges that you encountered? During the writing, creating and publishing process?

Sarah Monson:

You know, it the recipes came swiftly and pretty easily. So that part of it wasn't all that difficult. I just, I guess the struggle that I received with at least the first volume was that I didn't bank on it being as popular as it was.

Michael Dugan:

You sold out. I remember looking at that, I was like, wow,

Sarah Monson:

I didn't think that it would be so popular. And I kind of I launched the release of it. For the preorder. Because the the units themselves, the books themselves are pretty costly to produce. So the only way I would be able to afford it upfront was to have people pre pay for them. And I wasn't really sure how many of them I was going to sell. And so I launched it for pre orders so that I could get a better idea and stupidly I just posted it on Instagram and I said DM me if you want one, and all of a sudden my inbox was flooded. The response was swift and immediate and overwhelmed. I was definitely in over my head. I hadn't set up like a Squarespace or anything like that. It was just very grassroots like message me if you want one of these things. You can pay me via Venmo you know? And then it just went absolutely bonkers. And I ended up selling like 300 copies of the first one I'm pretty sure. Oh my god. It just kind of like exploded which was which was cool. I thought maybe 100 Maybe if I'm working but it ended up paying an awful lot more than that. It was really humbling really cool experience to watch. All of these messages just pop up in my inbox and everybody be so supportive was was really rad.

Michael Dugan:

So what about the creating side of it?

Sarah Monson:

Hannah Marie Nelson, local oil painter and she caught my eye via Instagram during the pandemic and when I was thinking like, Okay, this thing like needs a cover. I was like, I should outsource this because I don't quite know what I'm doing in that regard.

Michael Dugan:

You can't do everything Sarah.

Sarah Monson:

Again, it really the worst around a little bit. So I reached out to Hannah because I really enjoyed her artwork and asked her if she would be willing to create a cover for the book. And, she did so and she is she's incredible. And she's actually she's given us her artwork for the all three versions of the book. So she's an incredibly talented human. Yes

Michael Dugan:

Let's give her a shout out. How do people find her?

Sarah Monson:

Totally like she makes some of the best Faccocia I've ever eaten. In my life. So she's just like multitalented, incredible human. Her Instagram is Hannah underscore Marie. So you had an artist.

Michael Dugan:

My mom's an artist. She's a lighthouse artist, actually. Yeah, she listens to these episodes too. So hi, mom. I love artists and I love the creativity you know, and even my wife told me I was an artist because of cooking and I never really thought about it because for me I can't draw to save my life and my handwriting is atrocious like doctor's handwriting. But food is a whole nother story. I love creating the canvas in the kitchen. You know, and that is an amazing experience and it's so creative and I didn't even think that way until my wife pointed out to me. You know, I just thought it was what you did.

Sarah Monson:

Totally I mean, I personally I view it as I view it as a form of self expression and it's putting myself on a plate you know, however it is that I'm feeling that day I can create something to kind of show that or express myself I've I've kind of always thought of it that way and it's always been a huge creative outlet to me to cook.

Michael Dugan:

So how did the Seattle Times pick this up? What was that like?

Sarah Monson:

There was a journalist by the name of Bethany that works for the Seattle Times. She reached out to me via Instagram also, I believe and just basically just said like, Hey, I'm really interested in this story. I would love to cover this kind of love to talk to you about this. And so when I was doing Volume Two, she was really interested in covering the story for the Seattle Times while Volume Two was happening. She reached out to me we did kind of an over the phone interview because it was still in the you know, the throes of COVID and restaurants were like just starting to open back up mostly for like takeout services and that kind of thing. She had caught wind of the first version was interested in the second and then I guess decided to cover it for the paper. So she contacted me about that we did a little interview. Little mini like photoshoot I guess for the paper at the restaurant. I was working on at the time and went from there which made a huge difference in how many of those books I sold. It was pretty crazy the morning that the article went live I woke up and my phone was just like wouldn't stop buzzing It was wild.

Michael Dugan:

Wow. In round two so first it was the Instagram blow up and

Sarah Monson:

Holy shit you're in the Seattle Times. Right? What this is crazy.

Michael Dugan:

That's amazing. So were you better prepared for that. And braced for it at all?

Sarah Monson:

I was better prepared for it that time around because I actually made myself like a Squarespace website. Okay, so there was actually like a link that people could go to to purchase it online instead of me just having to like filter through my DMs and find everybody's information like I had a place for people to direct people to purchase one which made shipping a hell of a lot easier. And I think I ended up selling like 650 like almost 700 copies of that version. Oh, wow. Yeah. So it really boosted up the numbers with the visibility from the paper so that was really cool.

Michael Dugan:

Did you meet any interesting chefs along the way.

Sarah Monson:

I have come into contact with many interesting chefs along the way. Because the majority of this is done remotely the first couple two were like very deep in the pandemic. So everybody, like either mailed them to me or dropped them off at my house. So I didn't really get to meet these people in person. And then it wasn't until volume three that I actually started to meet in person, these people that I don't actually know that were contributing to this project, which was pretty cool.

Michael Dugan:

Do you want to give any shoutouts anybody that helped you in the project?

Sarah Monson:

There are so many people that have helped me throughout this project that I am endlessly grateful to obviously Hannah for producing her incredible artwork along the way. This past version of volume three, finally bumped up and had a graphic designer helped me out because that's something I know nothing of. So Holly Dirks she's in Texas now. But she was living in Seattle at the time. She helped with all of the graphic design for volume three, which was awesome. My buddy Jack, he's an incredible photographer. He shot all of the photographs of contributors and the food for the volume three version which includes you know, color photography, shot all of that on film, which ended up beautifully in the book. Just you know, everybody that contributed a recipe along the way and took the time to contribute to this project. I truly by its concept could not have done it without the community and I think that's what makes it so special.

Michael Dugan:

That's really incredible. I love the collaboration idea that really intrigued me. So we're gonna move forward to one of my favorite parts of the show and that's let's get cooking. I know in one of your recipe books, I think it's the third one you have. Is it Carmel Chicken Wings?

Sarah Monson:

Yeah, Volume Two I did these ideas. Yeah, these Carmel Fish sauce, Chicken Wings. Super good actually have people. My friend Austin has made them multiple times for gatherings and people request them and I think that's super cool.

Michael Dugan:

That's a great compliment. How would you describe the taste?

Sarah Monson:

There kind of these like Vietnamese inspired style of making chicken wings. So you do actually make like a sugar caramel to cook it way down until it's dark and thick and then you add in fish sauce and a bunch of other spices and it turns into this like salty, sweet, umami rich like deep flavored glaze for chicken wings and you just toss some fried breaded wings in them and it's like a perfect snack. They're crunchy and textural and sweet, salty, funky like all over the map flavors and they come together really deliciously.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah, well once we get back together that sounds like a great potluck item yeah, totally for gatherings. Wow. Any any other recipes you want to call out? I know. It's hard to call that one. You know, and people ask me about episodes. I love every single one of them. But there are a few that really stand out. So is there any other recipes you can tell us? About with cookbook three.

Sarah Monson:

I think one of my favorite recipes in the cookbook. Volume three is Sarah upshaw's radish kimchi. But she just makes some incredible kimchi and she allowed us to have her radish kimchi available in the cookbook, volume three and it's just incredible. So I think that that is definitely one of my favorites.

Michael Dugan:

I know you had a really interesting launch party. Before where you were cooking some of the recipes out of the cookbook. Can you describe that like what the launch party was like?

Sarah Monson:

It was such a fun day. I invited a handful of the contributors from the cookbook to participate in sort of like a maker's market, I guess you could call it. So I am lucky with my restaurant that I am a sous chef at they have a pretty large courtyard. I asked them if I could hold this event for the cookbook and they said totally so I allowed a bunch of the contributors to the cookbook to essentially set up shop in the courtyard.Selling their like pre made pre packaged versions of their recipes or the things that they had in in the book. So people could come and you know, pick up their copy or buy copies of the cookbooks. We have like shots and beers and a cocktail and you could walk around and just kind of like meet and greet some of the people that are featured in the cookbook, volume three and like either recipes and so it was a really rad community driven event where, you know, everybody came together in supportive of this cool community cookbook and you actually got to meet a handful of the people that participated and talk to them about their recipes and what it is that they're doing. So that was a really, fun event to culminate this release.

Michael Dugan:

That sounds like such a great way to spread the word and connect community. I just, I was envisioning, and I'm going. That's super cool. I mean, I have been to book signings, right? But it's a different kind of thing when you're connecting with food and the food is a huge part of that right and the people that create it and you're honoring them at the same time. I just, I just love it. I just absolutely love

Sarah Monson:

it. It's all about community man and food food is is that way and it brings people together and that's my favorite part about it. So I definitely meant for this project as a whole and all of the you know, events that came with it to be a community based project, so I'm really happy to that came across.

Michael Dugan:

So in your culinary journey, can you can you tell us are there any chefs that you admire in when you look out you know, in that span now, with social media, it's so easy to connect to so many chefs in the world, but are there any specific ones either in Seattle or around the world that you really respect and you really admire?

Sarah Monson:

I think that my answer for this is going to be pretty broad actually. I'm sure that's not what you're looking for. But over over the course of the pandemic, what I thought has been the coolest thing to come out of such an incredibly tough time for a lot of people. Was this boom of pop ups throughout the city. I don't think that that really wasn't something that was going on. Before the pandemic happened. You know, we were in Seattle and it was really cool during the pandemic, to see people kind of pop up in these like empty kitchens that weren't being used and line cooks who otherwise weren't big name chefs or working at big name restaurants, just people with a passion for food, who just wanted to put their passion out into the world. And I think it's been a really rad thing for the Seattle restaurant industry specifically to have all of these line cooks come up and be like, No, I love making this thing and I want to I want to show you like how good and cool this can be. And I think that has been my favorite thing.

Michael Dugan:

You made me think of something. So when I first And lifting each other up and giving, other cooks in this city launched the voice4chefs podcast, it was last year and kind of in the middle of the year. I interviewed a chef. Her name is Sabrina Tinsley. And she has a restaurant with her husband, Pietro Bourgesi called Le Spiga. It's a really incredible Italian restaurant but with the do is they really connect to community because they host pop ups for other a chance to shine and show what they can do. I just I think that chefs to come to their restaurant, and they honor them and it's just oh, I just love the idea. And they always, you know, they market them. They help them grow. And you just made me think of that. It's like this community connection that's so powerful. that's what it's all about. So last couple questions. Do you have any special message that you want to share with the world? Is there any kind of takeaways from this incredible idea that you had of creating this community cookbook?

Sarah Monson:

I mean, it's been a huge learning experience over the past couple years. And I guess my biggest personal takeaway from from this experience is just like you never know I guess what's going to happen. And curveballs come at you left and right. And I think that if anything else like this has taught me to just like roll with what comes to you and don't be afraid to fail. I had no idea that this was going to be as successful as it was. And I'm so happy that I pushed through that anxiety and I pushed through that fear because if I let that take over, I never would have gone through with it. And I'm so glad that I did. And I'm so glad that I had this idea in my head that just kept scratching at the back of my brain until I finally pulled the trigger and said, Alright, I'm going to do it and if I fail, then that's okay. And we just keep rolling. But I'm so happy that I took the leap. And I think that throughout the rest of my life that's that's a lesson that I've learned from this experience for sure.

Michael Dugan:

That's really amazing. Sarah with what you've accomplished in the people's lives that you've changed and inspired, you know, to have their recipes in a cookbook in such a hard time. You know, and to lift them up. I think that is really gift how do we connect with you and how do we purchase these cookbooks?

Sarah Monson:

You can still purchase Volume Two and volume three, my Instagram is the best way to reach out to me. It's my first initial and my last thing so @smonson. Monson and there is a link in my Instagram bio to take you to my Squarespace site to purchase volumes two and three that are available for shipping so that makes it super easy. They'll come straight to your door straight from my living room.

Michael Dugan:

I can't thank you enough for coming on the show. You are truly a voice for chefs and I'm really honored to meet you and have a chance to have this conversation. Yeah,

Sarah Monson:

I appreciate your taking the time. It's been really fun.

Michael Dugan:

Take care thanks for joining us today.