In part 1 of the interview, Susie spoke with us about her career: The challenges of starting her own businesses, the value of grounding your life in a community, and the importance of learning from inevitable missteps. In part 2 she offers advice for adults learning to cook, and on how to involve you children in the kitchen.
On Learning to Cook: Advice for Parents and Singles
HL: You have spoken about learning to cook from your grandmothers. I want to ask you a question for people who grow up and don’t learn to cook at home. Maybe their parents cook, or maybe not, but they don’t learn. Where would you suggest people start with teaching themselves to cook as adults?
SJ: It’s really about challenging yourself. Also, people need to realize that they will make mistakes in the kitchen like they will in life. And cooking classes are great. Don’t be embarrassed by not knowing how to begin. The other people are taking the class for a reason, too, so get out there and meet people. Also, invite people over to your home to eat together instead of going out to restaurants all the time. If people knew how much butter restaurant food had, they might re-think it.
HL: Do you have any favorite cookbooks or YouTube channels about cooking that I can recommend to our readers?
SJ: I love the Martha Stewart hors d’oeuvre book. I had it before I went to culinary school, and it has every appetizer in the world. There are ideas for so many great dishes in that book. I learned so much from that book, about sauces, cheeses, oysters, everything. You should see my copy. It’s covered in stains and notes, but I love it, it’s my favorite book, and every recipe has a different memory attached to it.
On Cooking With Children
HL: What about people who have young children, and then want to involve their kids in the kitchen. What can parents do to get their kids involved?
SJ: Kids are naturally curious, and people can build on that. Let your kids help out—tell them what you’re doing in the kitchen, and maybe twice a week bring them in to help out with dinner or baking cookies. It’s important for kids to see how math and chemistry apply to cooking—history, too. Cooking can help teach so many different subjects, and it’s fun. This is also something kids can be proud of. They can go to school and say, guess what, I made these devilled eggs.
Kids should know where eggs come from, why certain herbs are used in certain cuisines. I want my kids not to order chicken nuggets, but to order the gran masala with braised lentils—and have waiters say, “What just came out of this five year old?”
HL: And have them say, “I can go home and make it, too,” right?
SJ: Haha, exactly.
On Plans for The Future
HL: If you were going to make a cookbook, and I hope you will someday, what would you like it to focus on?
SJ: I have so many international friends here, and I think it would be great to take traditional dishes from different countries and add my slight twist on it—the Susie twist. There is something to be said for traditional recipes, but maybe adding a different herb or spice.
HL: So what is your new goal for the next couple of years, in terms of your career?
SJ: I took four months off when I closed the restaurant to re-group and get my life back. I’ve been able to reflect a lot on my life and what I want. I know I want to start a family soon, and I want to do more demos and travel and meet people. I have a radio show that I love doing too, but you can’t do everything at once.
HL: It sounds like it’s just elevating everything but with greater balance.
SJ: Yes, exactly. It’s hard to balance everything, and you’re going to go up and down in life, but as long as you keep climbing and moving forward. Being happy is the number one thing.
HL: That’s a good goal.
SJ: I think so. Slowly keep adding while maintaining balance in all areas.