Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interview with Suvir Saran, Eat Drink SF

Suvir Saran and Azalina Eusope at the San Francisco Street Food Festival, 2012 
Eat Drink SF is a showcase for local chefs of San Francisco with events throughout the weekend of August 1-3, 2014. One chef giving a demo this Sunday is Suvir Saran, who is moving downtown and opening a restaurant in all likelihood before the end of the year. Experiencing Saran’s passion and enthusiasm for food, cooking, and life in San Francisco is reason enough to attend. 

What will you be serving at the event? 
I will be doing a demo, corn and shrimp curry, not a tasting but a sneak preview of what will be on the menu. It’s so easy, clean, delicious and seasonal; it’s everything good food should be. Come ready to be teased! Life is food and food is life. I’ll talk about my journey. 

I’ve seen you at the CIA Worlds of Flavor and the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Do you attend or participate in a lot of events? 
I’m a little selective, I used to go a lot to the bigger events, but it’s chefs doing everything they shouldn’t do. It’s my mission to get people to enjoy food and open their palates to the food of the world. When an opportunity to teach presents itself, I’m happy to do it. That’s what’s dear to my heart. It’s about honest interactions. I want to really connect with people.

How is the restaurant coming along? How did you choose San Francisco?
It’s coming along. It will probably open early Winter. It’s a very ambitious project. I’m hoping it’s my new anchor in life. It’s a bold move. I wanted to do something connected to a farm, but I’ve realized NY is not the place that gives you 12 months of magic. SF was a logical choice. I love the produce, it’s honest.

My grandparents lived in the Marina and we went to the farmer’s market back in the 80’s. I loved the peaches, and they had a Meyer lemon tree. I felt comfortable in SF and never had to hide who I was. I gave NYC 20 years and in San Francisco I hope to spend the next 20 years.

What are your plans for the restaurant?
We take possession of the apartment on August 1st and I will have many months to experiment. I’ll have to create new partnerships, work with farmers, new relationships. We may have farms growing things just for us. 

I don’t follow trends and I don’t have chef friends. They all talk together and there is too little variation. I talk differently and dress differently and I cook differently. We will have a wood fired oven but no traditional pizza with mozzarella. I come with the baggage of India where we are greedy for flavor. 

What foods are you enjoying this Summer? 
The other day I was pickling, making Hindu pickles. 90% of my friends are Jewish and I love pickles. 

In India we make onion and tomato masala and add spices coriander, cumin, turmeric and garlic and then cook until jammy. The peas are cooked in that. You eat them whole like edamame. That takes me back to my childhood. There’s an art form to making it and eating it. 

Before that dal, served with green beans, rice and potatoes. Cooking for dummies is what I do best. We eat a lot of pasta, depending on what vegetables are coming out of the garden we add those to a marinara sauce with lots of herbs, it’s a recipe from my most recent book, Masala Farm.