Take sour oranges, Miso eggs, buttery prosciutto, and Persian tahdig. Toss in a dash of adventure and a passion for flavors. Then add a chef with the mind of a scholar and the personality of your funny best friend from junior high. It all adds up to new and veteran foodies binge-watching Netflix’s documentary series Salt Fat Acid Heat with Samin Nosrat. The award-winning author, food host, and chef will take center stage at Mesa Arts Center on Saturday, October 5, as part of the Performing Live Series.
Nosrat's New York Times best-selling book on mastering the four key elements of good cooking led to the Netflix production and launched her on a whirlwind journey. She's since shared her lessons on flavor, food science, and how to make any dish taste great. (Hint: It's salt.) “The more I travel and taste the different cuisines of the world, the more I realize that good cooking is universal,” Nosrat said during one episode. “The ingredients may change, but the fundamentals are the same, and it all begins with salt.” (See?)
From sweeping shots of Tuscan olive groves and a citrus market in the Yucatán, to exquisite close-ups of short ribs braising, and Brussels sprouts and cauliflower roasting (in separate pans), Nosrat elevated food documentaries to a new level of delicious watching. “Since 2000, I've pursued my twin passions of food and words with equal vigor, aiming to create work that inspires, creates community, and raises cultural, social and environmental awareness,” her bio reads on the Samin Nosrat website.
Her series also showcased more food experts from diverse backgrounds.
Proof of this is found in an interview with Guardian reporter Mina Holland titled "Messy kitchens and badass ladies: how Samin Nosrat will change the face of TV cooking shows." Nosrat said she wanted the show to be “filled with people of color, with women of color, with older women, with home cooks, who don’t typically get credit for their work — that was very intentional and hard to do.”
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As an Iranian-American writer, Nosrat also seems very aware of how her work is changing the face of the culinary world. During an episode of NPR's Code Switch podcast with Karen Grigsby Bates and Shereen Marisol Meraji, Nosrat talked further about the challenges of standing out as one of the few successful food authors of color.
“True diversity is not when there's the excellent black person, the excellent Iranian chef or whatever," she said on the episode titled "Samin Nosrat Is Making Space At The Table." She goes on to say, "It's when there's as much black, and brown, and queer, and whatever non-traditional mediocrity as there is white mediocrity.”
Nosrat is said to now be working on a new book called What to Eat.
But first, she'll be talking about her work and participating in a Q&A session with the audience inside the Ikeda Theater at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 5. Phoenix chef Mark Tarbell will be joining her. Tickets are $40, with a $100 pre-show meet-and-greet option available. For more information, see the Mesa Arts Center website.