.Food For Thought

A surge in cookbook inspiration arrives ahead of Homeless Garden Project’s Fall Sustain Supper

Something feels poetic about an upcoming book talk at legendary Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Sunday, Oct. 29, author/photographer/former molecular biologist Nik Sharma—who sits atop a growing stack of cookbook resources like James Beard Award-nominated Season:Big Flavors, Beautiful Food and The Flavor Equation—presents Veg-table: Recipes, Techniques and Plant Science for Big-Flavored, Vegetable-Focused Meals.

It’s an inspiring compilation of 50+ vegetables from 15 different plant families that author/TV personality Sola El-Waylly calls, “everything you’ve ever wanted to know about produce…from their origins to the history of their cultivation, and, of course, all the ways to make them delicious.”

That feels fitting, even preordained, for several reasons. One, Sharma’s visiting the fertile bed that grows so much of what his book celebrates. Two, he’s doing it in the heart of a city that’s long pushed the seed packet on veggie-forward fare.

Three, he’s appearing with the enthusiastic endorsement of another pioneering author/chef/creative, Brant Terry, who spoke around this time last year at Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper about justice and his book Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, another incredible compilation.

Veg-Table cements Sharma’s status as one of the most important cookbook authors of our time,” Terry says. “He always has his finger on the cultural pulse, and, with the recent uptick in interest in vegetable-forward cooking, this cookbook could not be more timely. Like his other books, this one is thoughtful, steeped in research, bold, and bursting with flavor.”

By the way, HGP’s Fall Sustain Supper lands Saturday, Oct. 28, with star chefs Yulanda Santos (Aubergine), Anna Bartolini (la Balena) and Emily Beggs (Kin & Kitchen) and featured speaker Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer-prize reporter and author of Smarter Faster Better and The Power of Habit.

bookshopsantacruz.com; niksharmacooks.com; homelessgardenproject.org


While we’re talking recipes that tell stories, one atypical collection—which became an outright smash sensation on YouTube amid COVID—has earned a hard cover version. I met Max Miller at the Bay Area Book Festival this summer, where he packed the auditorium with his passion for researching recipes and sharing the stories that come by studying—and cooking—everything from World War II-era “s*** on a shingle” to what various classes ate aboard the Titanic. Interested explorers can check out “Tasting History With Max Miller, both the video series and the cookbook, via his website. “I hear from viewers all the time, ‘I don’t love history but I love the stories you tell,’” he told me after the festival. “It’s like, ‘My dear, those stories are history.’”



One of the area’s best sandwich shops, Reef Dog Deli of Capitola, closes Sept. 23. Chef-co-owner Anthony Kresge cites the expense of putting in a permanent parklet (and paying for building permits and to rent the parking spots), as reasons he’s going to shut down. Here’s hoping wonders like the Reefy (beef brisket pastrami made and smoked in house, melted Vermont sharp cheddar, onion jam, whole grain mustard on griddled Jewish rye) find a new home elsewhere.



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