5 Questions with Hannah Kaminsky
HANNAH KAMINSKY has developed an international following for her innovative recipes and mouthwatering food photography at the award-winning blog BitterSweetBlog.com. She is the author of Vegan Desserts, Vegan à la Mode, Easy as Vegan Pie, Real Food Really Fast, and Sweet Vegan Treats. Passionate about big flavors and simple techniques, she works and lives in Oakland, developing recipes and photographing food from morning to night.
BFiO: Whose food in Oakland do you enjoy as much as your own?
HANNAH: Huge props to Philip Gelb, chef and owner of Sound & Savor, who has kept me sane in these days of limited restaurant experiences. He's shifted his previous underground restaurant/dinner party format to delivery meals, and I've been fortunate enough to enjoy them twice a week. Not gonna lie, I often enjoy his cooking a lot more than my own... Especially because I don't have to do any dishes afterward.
BFiO: What food do you think is overrated?
HANNAH: Honestly? Mac and cheese. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a proper cheesy noodle, but 99% of the dishes you get in restaurants are overcooked, too dry, too salty, too bland. Granted, I've been a judge for mac and cheese cooking contests before, so I'm exceptionally picky, but I have a hard time finding a version that I love enough to actually crave.
BFiO: What’s missing in the Oakland food scene?
HANNAH: I would do terrible things for a real vegan diner. There's a huge hole in the dining landscape, ever since Saturn Cafe, and even earlier, Herbivore, closed. Where can a girl get a decent dairy-free milkshake and crispy fries at midnight these days?!
BFiO: At what local markets do you shop for ingredients/food?
HANNAH: I can't lie. My go-to in Oakland is Grocery Outlet. You just can't beat those deals, and sometimes you get lucky and score some really rare plant-based specialty goods. It's a lot like a culinary treasure hunt.
BFiO: What does The New Normal look like for Oakland restaurants & food businesses in the age of COVID-19?
HANNAH: I'm afraid to look into that crystal ball, but all signs point to a very bleak future. We're going to see a lot more closings to come, even as business struggle to adapt when restrictions fade away. It's just impossible to make a profit when you can't pack the house, even if there's huge demand and support. For those who fight through these barriers, it's going to be a lot less personal, more self-service and fewer waiters, more disposables like cutlery and plates, and generally less of a social experience. To me, that's the main point of eating out, but you just can't have gatherings of that many people now, and your time will be limited so the restaurant can turn those tables. Plus, if you're sketched out by the bathroom situation like me, there's an urgent need to cut things short before too long. I really hope there are better solutions on the horizon that I just can't see yet, but I fear the worst. My heart breaks every time I think about my friends in the industry.
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