The lack of blog posts is caused by my 150% investment in a dinner fundraiser I am putting together that is now finally happening this weekend. My family and friends know what's up. My husband even asked me to stop working after a certain hour in the evening because I was getting a little too crazy with this project of mine. But I am not crazy - I'm happy. I am doing what I love to do: helping others with my talent. If I could do this every month or so with the guarantee that I'll have a packed house then it's all I would do -- oh and yeah, speaking of packed house -- Soud Chef is SOLD OUT.
Remember my post under Purify the Colors? How I finished school, went on another Haiti trip and came back in a total funk because I didn't know what to do with my life anymore, and then I snapped out of it (with the help of my incredibly supportive husband and friends). Well after that post, I reached out to a few kitchen/dining spaces with my idea of Soud Chef as it had not yet been born. Truthfully, I had no faith. I didn't expect anyone to respond with a heck yeah, let's do this, here's a space you could use at no cost! And that's how it went. There were high costs, lots of requirements and rules, and the biggest thing: I needed to show proof of non-profit credentials. For an event as small as this, going through the rigorous process of applying for a non-profit was not-worth-it. There was no hope. But then, through word of mouth, I got in contact with 18 Reasons, a community cooking school located in the Mission/Dolores district of San Francisco. While not 'free of charge,' we worked out a wonderful deal that I could not pass up. My husband concernedly asked me, "where are you going to get the money from?" I don't know, but I'll figure it out, I say. Sound familiar?
The next steps were as followed: marketing, promoting, menu-planning and a whole lot of asking. The first three steps were not too hard. I am a great writer and a persuasive one, that is. Designing and writing the web-page for Soud Chef was probably the most challenging and fun I got out of this whole prep; it took me back to my thesis-writing days, but with a lot more writing and revisions (and I probably need to get my eyes checked again). The menu-planning was also in constant revision. It was as if I was changing the menu in my head every day. Luckily, I narrowed it down and began recipe developing. I also had a Chef friend of mine come over one day to do a test run of the entire course, then go through each dish with feedback. I loved doing all that. It was pleasing to know whatever I was working on was going towards something much bigger: a new home and school for the children of the Haiti Deaf Academy. All good. I'm happy. I'm focused. I can do it. I can do it all. But when it came to asking for something that was out of my hands, it got a little stressful. On top of all the businesses I reached out to, about 30% responded and I could not be more grateful for the 30%. Here are the Soud Chef donors in no particular order:
Josey Baker Bread
Josey Baker (bad-ass name right!?) and his team of bakers work out of The Mill, a cafe on Divisadero in San Francisco. He's known for his quality, fresh milled bread and one unique gluten-free bread known as adventure bread. It's made mostly of seeds and is to die for. I could literally eat a whole loaf in one sitting. For the event, slices of toasted adventure bread will be served with the second course. To learn more about Josey, his passionate business, and perhaps pick up his book, visit joseybakerbread.com
Vital Farms may not be local (due to removing their California distrubution when California was in a severe drought) but they are definitely a company you would want to buy from. When I reached out to them, I didn't expect much because they are already so giving. They’ve donated $70k last year alone to causes they believe in like 4-H, on top of 15,000 eggs they donate to community food banks EACH WEEK. However, to my surprise, they were willing to send some coupons for complimentary cartons of eggs to start me off in the right direction and I could not be more grateful. We'll be using pasture-raised eggs in the second course as well as the color of the yolk is vivid to provide a contrast for the dish.
Siete Family Foods
When I switched to a gluten-free lifestyle, I was happy that I wouldn't miss out on tacos because there's such thing as gluten-free tortillas also known as corn tortillas (if done right). I was a bit sad that I wouldn't be able to have that pliable, soft, flour tortillas anymore as it really didn't exist in gluten-free form. Rice flour tortillas were bleh, and the big name brands that produced gf tortillas was something I stayed the fuck away from because of the amount of preservatives. Then one day my sadness went away when I found Siete Family Food's Cassava and Coconut Tortillas. I ate a whole pack to myself in secret. Taco after taco after taco. I reached out to the Siete Family and asked for a few packs of their delicious tortillas and they sent them my way. I cannot wait to share these in taco form (first course) come Saturday!
When a businesses has a contact option for "donation inquiries" you know you're working with the right people. I personally don't eat much soy as there's so much confusing and misleading information about soy all over, but if I have to use to soy, it's going to be Hodo's. I asked for 3 packages and they gave me 6 upon pick-up, in addition to an invitation to come back for a tour of their factory. The firm tofu will be battered and fried for the vegetarian dish of the fourth course.
Local and environmentally responsible. Not to mention that their products are organic AND non-gmo. Each product gives back to the community and over 3 million dollars have been donated to date. We buy from Nutiva a LOT. Chia seeds, hemp seeds and coconut oil are a staple in our pantry and there's no better feeling than choosing Nutiva (especially since they've got products at Costco). A little while back I put together some coconut milk chia seed puddings and posted a colorful photo on Instagram and a few weeks later, I was the winner of a Nutiva contest known as Fan Friday. They sent me a jar of coconut oil along with a few other goodies to try. Since I already had plenty of coconut oil in stock, I decided to save the jar for Soud Chef. I reached out to them to let them know what I was doing with my prize and they willingly sent me a second jar for the event! The coconut oil will be used in the fourth course in the plantain recipe and to fry the chicken & tofu.
Home Sweet Flowers
We can't have a party without flowers! I met Lorena long ago at a wedding I photographed for and was blown away at her craft. I secretly took more than enough photos of her floral arraignments than I should have. Do you follow a floral designer on Instagram? Because she's the only one I follow. I mean who follows flowers? Any who, I reached out to this talented woman and she was more than happy to provide some flowers for the event. I don't even know what kind of arrangements are coming but I knew they're going to be beautiful. Visit her web page at homesweetflowers.com
Here are more folks who are donating or have donated their time or money to Soud Chef:
Dani Phoenix - ASL Interpreter Volunteer | Ohlone College
Vero Kherian - Food Blogger + Photographer | Miss Cheesemonger
Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh - PhD Candidate | UC Berkeley
Evelyn Mendoza - Freelance Videographer + Editor
Jesus Mendoza - CEO | Best Express Foods
Daniel Mendoza - Creative Director | Best Express Foods
Chef Sanaz Ebriani
Carlos Garcia - La Bamba
Professor Maura Nolan | UC Berkeley
Betty Atanasu - Disabled Student's Program | UC Berkeley
Many many thanks goes to all the contributers. I wouldn't have been able to do it without their support
That's it for now folks. After the dinner, I promise I won't be in a funk and I won't be totally invested in other things. In fact, I have new and exciting things to share with you but it'll have to wait. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a blog post re-cap of the dinner with photos provided by Vero Kherian.