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We’re the Bicoastal Cooks: East Coast and West Coast. We started as two friends living on opposite sides of the states with a passion for food. We quickly realized that we don’t just love food, but we love creating our own dishes and recipes. With that in mind, we set out to create a blog on recipe development–what is the process that gives birth to new recipes? And where does the inspiration for new recipes come from?
There are many blogs and books out there that will teach you kitchen techniques or recipes, but our aim was to teach you how to create–how to turn inspiration into recipes in order to become your own chef. And this is just the start.
We are also releasing our first ebook and would love for you to take a look here!
TL;DR – I’m sarcastic. Minimalistic. Love experimenting and learning about food. INTJ. Trying to find my cooking style. Oh and according to this Buzzfeed quiz I should marry sushi.
There are many ways people enter the world of cuisine. I will briefly talk about my two:
Mr. Jonenson was the leader of my Cub Scout pack back in elementary school. I had lacked a father figure growing up and for those fleeting weekends we went camping he was mine. There is something special about the food you eat when camping. On one hand, you are exhausted and starving. It’s just primal and biological. On the other, it’s about the rituals that come into play and these are rituals that you don’t encounter anywhere else. One of the best traditions was waking up in the morning to eat oatmeal out of that brown Quaker paper packet that you were too lazy to transfer to a cup so now there is just apple cinnamon powder in one corner. You would complain together. Bond. And do it exactly the same the next time. Even more special to me was dinner. Everyone had their part: the fire starters, the cooks, and the cleanup crew. Fun fact: Most boys are pyromaniacs when they are young (and most still when older). They would always want to be the illustrious “Fire Starters”. However, Mr. Jonenson loved cooking; he did, therefore I did. It was the simple stuff that first drew me into cooking: cooking burgers in foil wraps or jambalaya in the Dutch oven. I found styles, techniques, and rituals so different from the ones I experienced at home. Not to forget, all this is happening in the middle of a forest, in nature, a world that surrounds us but often feels so foreign and forgotten. Everyone has his or her rituals, whether cultural or societal, when it comes to food. And jumping into a new one is exhilarating.
It was sitting in a Carnival cruise dining room where my next source of inspiration came. We were lumped into a communal table and I had to do one of the things I dreaded most: make small talk. There was this man that sat to my 10 o’clock on the first night. Round figure, hair only left for the outer perimeter of hiss head, rosy face, somehow managing to struggle together a prominent Dutch mustache, but mannerism clearly American. I sat in shock at the amount of food he ordered. He ate the classics, the extravagances, and the underdogs. No discrimination for his palate. (If you are reading this and thinking about the waste that ensues such habit, I apologize. Let’s set ethics aside temporarily.) I, on the other hand, was sitting there ordering from the kid’s menu. The next night he sat next to me and encouraged me to follow suit. I had unwillingly become his protégé during this dining room meal. He ordered for me, signaling to the waiter, “Let’s get two of everything I order.” I was confused, looked at my mom for comfort only to see her equally as perplexed. But when the food came and all my worries had vanished. Instead of being immersed into a new world as I was in the forest cooking on a campfire, I had new worlds being delivered right to me, exploring with my knife and fork. I had a blast trying the escargots, the first serving of lobster tail, and then the second serving of lobster tail, and then actually this appetizer sounded interesting let’s try that, followed by the I can’t decide between these two desserts, a what’s a baked Alaska, and finally okay I’d like to get all three. I was a changed boy.
Since then, food has continued to be my world: exploring, trying, cooking, reading, reading about cooking, reading about exploring about cooking. So on.
We finally get to the kicker. The first thing someone responds to when I say “Oh yeah I love food and cooking!” is “What do you cook?” I have never had an answer to that. I could give a spiel about my trials and tribulations, or discuss what my latest fascination is, or talk about that 6 volume textbooks I’m making my way through. There are very few that would actually care for that level of detail in response to their casual question. (I tried it this weekend.) And most conversations are about finding similarities, not discussing over-fascinations, borderline obsessions. But more importantly, I don’t actually have a good answer to that question. I’m still exploring. There is so much out there that I’m ready to find out.
The exploration never stops. Through the course of the past few months, I have been able to explore new techniques, ingredients, and cultures and generally learn a lot about my cooking philosophy along the way. Personally, I love the story behind a dish–starting from it’s inspirations and history all the way to the techniques and ingredients.
I hope you join us, engage with us, and if you are also searching for something, find it with us, whether through our book or on our blog.
TL;DR – I’m cheerful, restless, and always going after the next (culinary) adventure. ENFP. West Coast resents that our Myers-Briggs makes us soul mates but he secretly loves it. Big fan of corny pick up lines. When other people do online shopping, I’m online recipe-browsing. Pizza will be my partner in holy matrimony according to BuzzFeed.
If you asked me what my favorite food is, I would tell you definitively that it is pho. No, it is duck confit. No, it’s rope vieja. No, chawanmushi. No, lamb shish kabobs. No, red-roasted pork. No, channa masala with a side of chapattis. Okay so I have a lot of favorite foods, and it is really stressful just to pick one, okay?!
My love affair with food started at the tender age of zero, but it wasn’t until college that I truly began cooking and experimenting with recipe creation. I am constantly inspired by the diversity of New York City; you can often find me window shopping at Eataly, browsing for spices at an East Village Middle Eastern market, making friends with the butchers at a Polish Meat Market (shout out to Georgi!), or snapping up fresh produce from a Chinatown street vendor while simultaneously battling off the stench from a nearby fish market. That’s basically my past weekend actually, in a nutshell.
Food has been a way for me to connect with people, and as cheesy as it sounds, connect with myself. After moving to the United States from China at the age of ten, for quite some time, I completely rejected the food of my homeland. I eschewed roasted duck in favor of McChickens, dumplings in favor of bagels, and was horrified whenever my parents packed me any lunch that wasn’t neatly and safely packed between two slices of bread. Even though I missed the flavorful food of my childhood, I pushed myself to eat the “American” foods that I thought would help me fit in. Every lunch period in the cafeteria, I’d buy a plain bagel, sit with it for 42 minutes, and throw it away. It was completely wasteful and I am completely sorry for it now. But I couldn’t eat it then. I missed home.
As I slowly assimilated and made friends, I became more comfortable with myself and my food choices. I began to invite friends over for dinner, even when I knew dinner will be soup noodles and not pizza. In college, I took delight in serving homemade steamed buns to my roommates (West Coast: I was never treated to homemade steamed buns.), and leading groups to Chinatown to sample chicken feet and tripe. Nowadays, I am the first to suggest congee for breakfast. Bagels are okay, but sometimes, a warm bowl of comfort just gets my day started off right, especially if it’s topped with crunchy chopped scallions.
Armed with my trusty slow cooker and a set of measuring spoons, I hope to turn ideas into many superb recipes, and along with West Coast, share our food creation journey through Bicoastal Cooks. From the first inkling of inspiration to gathering ingredients to testing, the Bicoastal Cooks will be guides and partners every step of the way. We hope to serve as a community for food lovers who love to create, and get creative with their food. Let’s craft some recipes together!