ScribdChat with Samin Nosrat

Local Bay Area hero and celebrity chef Samin Nosrat has had a banner year. Her James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (now a hit Netflix series) has quickly become the modern-day heir apparent to The Joy of Cooking, taking its place as the seminal reference text for novice millennial cooks and seasoned foodies alike.

We were lucky enough to host Samin for a ScribdChat at our headquarters in February to learn more about her love of cooking, writing, and how she’s doing on her quest to become the “Iranian-American Martha Stewart.”

Here are the highlights:  

Samin on discovering Chez Panisse:

When I was in college I had this magical meal that I saved up for at Chez Panisse restaurant, which is sort of the temple of California cuisine and eating locally. … It looked so beautiful and warm, and I felt so cared for, so I wrote a letter asking for a job bussing tables and that kind of changed the path of everything for me because I wanted always to be a writer (I was an English major) and I started bussing tables and immediately I was so enchanted by the way the cooks worked and moved, and everything was happening in the kitchen, so I started begging them to teach me how to cook.

I was completely overwhelmed because I didn’t know anything — I didn’t know the difference between parsley and cilantro [laughs] — and so I very much started from zero.

On Michael Pollan’s mentorship:

Having a person in your life who you can look up to, who tells you when you’re having a bad idea, is a really helpful thing. So Michael was really good at telling me all the bad ideas I had for books, and when I had a good idea, when he saw this idea, he very much supported [it]. … He said “what publishers really want is a unique and original idea, and that’s what this is. And that’s what’s going to make the argument for your book, so go make this.” … So he kind of put me in my place and said I had to go do it.

On “SaltGate 2019”:

On diversity and representation in the media:

On deciding to adapt Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat for Netflix:

I found out that Netflix wanted the show two days after the 2016 election, when I was depressed in bed. And I was getting this incredible news, and also I just was like ‘wait a minute, if this is the public and this is this opportunity to become a person in the public eye, I’m not sure that I want to be in that public eye.’ And I was pretty ambivalent about it for a little while, and then I came around and I did it, but … it sort of reinforced this feeling that I wanted to use this opportunity that I had to tell the kinds of stories — and even if they were subversive, or just under the surface — that I felt were missing.

For the full video, and more information about upcoming author talks, visit ScribdChat.com.