Ep. 17: Aileen Suzara (Pt. 1) - Eco-Educator, Writer, and Chef

Our guest for this two-part series is Aileen Suzara.  Aileen is an eco-educator, writer, and natural chef who’s dabbled in everything from Pre-Med, to Environmental Work, to Food and founded Sariwa Kitchen (Sariwa = “fresh” in Tagalog), which gathers community and celebrates vibrant Filipino cuisine through pop-ups, catering, and workshops.  Aileen’s backstory is wonderfully “random” being born in the Mojave Desert, spending time in the Big Island of Hawai’i, and now in California eating, in her words, “everything from Spam, bibimbap, poi, spaghetti, poke, Pop Tarts, to the plastic wrapped foods of the microwave generation”.  This was an incredibly fun episode to work on as it encapsulates the multi-faceted nature of our food and the people who love it.  Hidden Apron loves a good tangent!

This first part covers the twisting path Aileen took and I’d wager that for many of us for whom the question “what am I going to do after college or my life?” sent cold sweats down our spine, this is going to be an enlightening conversation on “tying the strings together”.  We also talk about her 80/20 Rules on cooking - the things that make the biggest impact on preparing a meal - and the differences in mindset between growing food and making it.  Give this one a listen and keep on the lookout for the next episode on the theme of Resistance.


4:00 - Aileen Today
6:00 - The book(s) that started Aileen’s journey: Recipes of the Philippines by Enriqueta David-Perez
9:20 - Cooking in the “Shadow of the Microwave” // Cooking “V8 Soup”
13:30 - Teaching oneself to cook or…A Burmese Cook meets a Filipina in the middle of the Mojave Desert
15:30 - Transitioning from Pre-Med to Environmental Work to Food // Becoming a “Natural” Chef
22:00 - The 80/20 Rule for Cooking: Understanding ingredients + Simplify with what’s around you
26:00 - Mindsets between Cooking Food and Growing It: Continuous Learning
28:00 - On Wanting to be a Nun // Chef’s Table, Season 3: Jong Kwan

Vocab & Other Links:
Laksa (Spicy Peranakan Noodle Soup)
Dinuguan (Pork Offal Stewed in Blood)
Espasol / Baye-baye (Cylindrical Filipino Rice Cake)
Malagkit (Glutinous Rice)
Pinipig (Pounded and Toasted Glutinous Rice)
UC Santa Cruz Agroecology Program
Shoshin: The Beginner's Mind

Follow the Story...
: Sariwa Kitchen
Instagram: @aileensuzara