CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 14 Sci-Fi & Fantasy - Page 87

If you’re a foodie on Instagram, there is a pretty good chance that you follow what is happening in the restaurant kitchens of Maura Kilpatrick and Ana Sortun. Their popular restaurants turn out food as delicious as it is beautiful. Last year, the pair put out the cookbook, Soframiz, dedicated to the sweet and savory Middle Eastern baked goods they serve at their Cambridge, MA bakery and cafe, Sofra. Since then, they have become darlings of the foodie cult thanks to the fact that they make the food we want to eat and write solid recipes. The pair were gracious enough to take part in this Q&A and share their recipes for Sesame Cashew Bars, Tahini Hot Chocolate, and Tahini Shortbread Cookies. Enjoy! Tell me about the moment you fell in love with the foods of the Eastern Mediterranean? MF: I fell in love slowly, the more I learned. The job came first, working with Ana, and then I spent a lot of time learning and testing and tasting. Soon I real- ized how much more fun I could have and take more chances than other pastry chefs with this cuisine, it’s an amazing opportunity to keep learning about food and challenging myself. AS: In 1997, I was working at Harvard Square’s Casa- blanca restaurant, cooking Mediterranean food mostly inspired by my travels to Italy, Spain and the south of France. While at Casablanca, I was invited by Ayfer Un- sal (whom you all will meet and who came to me via Oldways by the way!) to visit Turkey for the first time and to study the cuisine from her hometown, Gazien- tep. When I thought about going to Turkey, I imagined genies and flying carpets. I had no idea. I woke up to my first morning in Gazientep. It was hot and I was off to the market bright and early with Ayfer. I had put on shorts and a tee shirt and she sent me back to my room to change into long sleeves & long pants. I thought it was interesting that I had to be covered and that women don’t usually go to the market. Where was I? I soon got over the mystery (understanding much later) but it’s the memory of a potluck she threw for me that is tattooed inside my head forever. It was a turning point and a revelation in my career as a chef. Her friends graciously threw me a welcome lunch (potluck) in the park. Everyone prepared a favorite recipe (Ayfer made me make one too!) and there were 30 amazing dishes spread out from one end of the ta- ble to the other. I tasted every single one and it was all so unfamiliar yet very rich and complex. I realized that I had tasted 30 dishes, essentially making my way through a 30-course tasting menu and I didn’t feel terrible. Even though the flavors were complex, the dishes were light. This idea of food being rich but not heavy was something new for me. I’ve been hooked since that day and it has changed the way I cook for- ever. It became a study from there on and I explored ingredients, spices, recipes, and techniques, eventually coming up with my own style of Mediterranean cook- ing that is modern, interpretive but inspired by what I learned and continue to learn from travels to Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean. Your book, Soframiz, has been a foodie favorite since it’s 2016 debut. Did you expect the response or were you surprised? MF: Very grateful, we expected our Sofra customers to embrace it, and with the current interest in Middle Eastern food, it is great timing. AS: We are forever grateful. We had no expectations. We just wanted to write a story about our working re- lationship and how it evolved into what we do today at Sofra. Did you enjoy the process of writing a cookbook? Was there anything about the process that was un- expected? MF: It was so much attention to detail, which as a pas- try chef I really love. Unexpected was the amount of time it took, it was difficult while doing production at the bakery. I would take myself off production in the future. AS: So difficult to be so accurate and writing always in the same format but this created good habits of com- munication. I’m surprised that these are skills I need and benefit from in the future. What was your most powerful food moment while traveling in the Eastern Mediterranean and why? MF: Loved the fresh Kaymak shop in Istanbul, making it the same way for a century. Also loved fresh pide from the pide shops which are similar to pizza shops here, I © Hundred-to-One LLC 2017. All rights reserved.