Sarah grew up in Selma, California in the raisin capital of the world. When she woke up one day and told her parents she had decided to be a cook, they just chuckled. Sarah herself realized that although formal education would bring her knowledge, the best way to learn how to be a chef would be to immerse herself in as many experiences as possible. And so she set out.
Sarah traveled with her young son, attended college, and worked in various kitchens. Most memorably, she worked at Duecy’s at Bass Lake in California, and then at a saute station with 18 burners, 3 ovens, 2 wok burners, and 2 salamanders...all by herself! At the age of 24, she was promoted to Executive Chef and experienced a ton of firsts: first time writing a menu from scratch, first time training a crew, and first time leading a team. She then made the decision to move back to Colorado and continue to learn the art of cooking at Euclid Hall, Rioja, and Stoic & Genuine. She is now your Executive Chef at Steuben’s Arvada, and she cannot wait to cook for you!
Q: Who inspired your culinary skills?
A: My grandmothers. My abuela was always cooking or feeding. Her kitchen smelled of simmering meats and spices, and it was always hard to not peek in the pots or sneak a taste while she had her back turned making salsa in the molcajete. She wasn't using recipes or high-level techniques, but she loved us through food and that has been a big influence on my cooking and my relationships.
My grandma kept a pristine garden, milled her own flour, and kept perfectly handwritten recipe cards for the recipes she had developed and tested.
She was diligent and direct, and she loved you, but it had nothing to do with the sublime food she put on the table. The food was something all its own.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being a chef?
A: I love the challenges. I am constantly learning new techniques, new flavor combinations, and new ways to solve problems. The industry is built around people, and with every new person comes a new history, experience, and perspective. Mostly, though, I love the WORK of it all! Cooking is definitely a working-hands job - it is grimy and gritty and hot, but that kind of work comes with the perks of a skill to hone, and a family of coworkers.
Q: Who would you love to be a personal chef for?
A: Lizzo. What a force she is! I bet it would be a hilarious and exciting adventure.
Q: How would you characterize your culinary style?
A: I am for sure a high-brow/low-brow girl, the shabby chic of culinary. I love when fancy techniques and ingredients find their ways into everyday comfort food, or when everyday comfort finds its way into fine dining.
Q: For novices in the kitchen, which 2 ingredients should always be on hand?
A: Nice butter and salt. Any dish can be elevated with these two things!
Q: For craftsmen in the kitchen, what challenge may level-up their skills and creativity?
A: Gardening. Nothing will teach you to appreciate the vegetables that you use, the soil it grows in, and the bugs that make it all happen, better than gardening. Grow things that excite you, (that you normally can't afford to buy in the store), and then find ways to cook them and enjoy them at home. We can't all afford to buy organic, local, heirloom produce, but we can all grow them on our own with a little time and devotion.