Author Keren Brown took a moment from her busy schedule to talk to Denise Sakaki about how food, life and family all come together at the table, and there’s nothing a little sour cream or peanut butter can’t fix.
By Denise Sakaki
Meet Keren Brown, the author behind the new book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle: Best Local Specialties, Markets, Recipes, Restaurants, and Events. It’s the latest must-have sourcebook for restaurants, as well as food events in and around the Seattle area – there’s even recipes gathered from well known local chefs. Her blog and Twitter handle is “Frantic Foodie,” and that’s got a lot to do with her multitasking talents, which includes being a mom, staying on top of the busy Seattle food scene, as well as planning events, such as the wildly successful Foodportunity networking meetups that connect local bloggers and food lovers. Her desire to be a pivotal connector in the culinary community has helped food enthusiasts integrate with the food industry throughout the Northwest. Keren took a moment from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about how food, life and family all come together at the table, and there’s nothing a little sour cream or peanut butter can’t fix.
How was the experience of writing Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattleand what about it surprised you the most?
The experience was very intense and I was prepared for that. I missed a lot of holidays and special events because I was getting work for the deadlines done. I was surprised at how solitary the experience was, even though it is a food guide, the writing had to be done alone, by myself. It taught me a lot about myself and I learned little tricks on staying motivated.
How does the food scene in Seattle distinguish itself from other cities?
The food scene here is connected and reciprocal. The food scene is built on relationships and people work together. You see names of the farms and purveyors on the menus. You start to recognize these names after a while. You just feel a part of it. The Seattle food scene is very welcoming and it’s easy to make a lot of friends just from getting immersed in food, going to events and frequenting the farmers markets.
What was the most interesting adventure when researching your book?
It’s hard to chose one but I really enjoyed the hospitality of different cultures. I loved going into markets and spending hours browsing the shelves and asking questions. I especially enjoyed learning about the culture behind the food.
What do you hope Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle will provide for both visitors to Seattle as well as locals?
I hope it will make people love the food scene as much as I do. I wanted the book to give people a glimpse into the scene; background about restaurants, who owns what and what are the best things to order. It provides the inside scoop, making you feel like you are hanging out with a bunch of foodies and listening in on their conversation.
Who was the most influential person who defined the way you approach food?
It has been a journey with lots of different people influencing the way I see food. I took some classes at the Art Institute of Seattle with Chef Paul Redman, he really taught me about Northwest Cuisine and motivated me to try and cook it all at home.
My Mother- in- law taught me the importance of food as a way to bring people together. She cooks so she can nurture her family. There is always something warm on the stove. You just walk in and open the pots and find something warm every time. This is something that I strive to achieve. I want my family and friends to always feel like there is something to eat at my house, even if it means I just whip something up while they are there.
Is there any food or ingredient you dislike?
Not really. I don’t like raw onions because they give me a headache. Otherwise, I will try everything once.
How has parenthood changed the way you approach what’s on the plate?
Parenthood has taught me to keep things simple. I used to bake all my breads by hand and make my own pasta. Since I had my son, I realize that my time is limited so I have learned to let go. Less time in the kitchen is more time with my child. We still eat wholesome food but I have learned to take shortcuts. And I don’t beat myself up about it.
What’s your secret indulgence that makes you feel a little guilty for eating?
I love sour cream. I love the texture and will put it on anything. And I love peanut butter on anything.
What do you prefer: cooking or eating?
I prefer eating. I do love cooking but I prefer trying new things and flavors so that is why I love eating out. I think if someone else did the dishes and cleaned up, I would love cooking more.
You can see what Keren is up to on her blog at FranticFoodie.com or follow her on Twitter @FranticFoodie and her book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle: Best Local Specialties, Markets, Recipes, Restaurants, and Events, is now available in stores and online.
Denise Sakaki is a freelance food writer and photographer who is always searching for the connections between food and personal experience. She is the creator of the food blog Wasabi Prime and contributor to Serious Eats, 425 Magazine and Drink Me Magazine.