Mezze & Dolce

Light Mediterranean Meals Paired with Ample Dessert

Inspiration: Interview with Chef Lacey Sher of Encuentro

Lacey

In March, we launched our inaugural M & D interview with Chef Louisa Shafia, the acclaimed writer of the New Persian Kitchen cookbook. We were a bit over the moon that she accepted the interview – here we were just weeks before the Persian New Year, and she was spending time with us! 

Well we’re pretty darn excited about this interview, too. Lacey Sher is the chef at Encuentro, a vegetarian wine bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square. We wrote about them just last year, highlighting their stunning array of seasonal bruschetta and breads. Sitting on a couple of purple re-upholstered chairs from Sher’s grandmother, we talked to Sher about her dreams of owning a farm, her favorite place to get ice cream, and what she’s learned about life from being a chef.

M&D: You’re hosting a casual dinner party at your house. What do you serve as a mezze or appetizer?
LS: I’m not going to lie – we eat a lot of hummus. We live off of the stuff. But if we were having people over, probably Vietnamese-style spring rolls with a peanut and ginger sauce. Or maybe some burrata with basil oil and a really good salt.

M&D: What is the best dessert you’ve ever eaten, either that you’ve made yourself or someone else made for you?
LS: The banana split at Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco is unbelievable. They brulee the bananas, and everything is homemade. The place is styled like an old soda fountain, so it’s a fun atmosphere, too. When I’m on the East Coast, I love the donuts at Doughnut Plant in Manhattan. I’m really into dessert.

M&D: What other chefs, artisans, etc. are doing creative things with food and/or inspiring you right now?
LS: Someone who’s really inspiring me right now is David Kinch at Manresa (in Los Gaos, CA). He’s growing everything for the restaurant. That’s my dream; I want to have my own farm where I can source as much as possible.

M&D: Name one ingredient you cannot live without.
LS: Cumin. Salt. Olive oil. But yeah, cumin. It’s used in almost every cuisine around the world. It’s earthy, sour. There’s something about it that’s almost primal. I love it.

M&D: What’s your favorite dish that uses cumin?
LS: Oh, there’s too many to mention. I’ve been thinking a lot about papadum lately though. I love papadum.

M&D: What have you learned about life from being a chef?
LS: You get to start over every day. If something’s not working, you can always tweak it or fix it. There’s a solution to most problems. And it takes a lot of people and parts to make things work.

M&D: Looking into your culinary crystal ball, what do you predict will be the next big trend in food?
LS: I think we’re going to keep moving in the same direction of valuing nutrient-dense, fresh food. People are going to keep learning how to cook for themselves. I don’t think of it as a trend; It’s more like we’re getting back to what food is supposed to be.

M&D: What’s next for you and Encuentro?
LS: Well we just moved into a larger space, so we’ve got our hands full with all of our growth. We’re about to start serving lunch. And hopefully one day soon, I’ll have that farm we were talking about.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Lacey!

Good Avocado

Encuentro’s famous bruschetta with avocado, olive oil, and cilantro with chili jam & black salt.

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One comment on “Inspiration: Interview with Chef Lacey Sher of Encuentro

  1. Eli
    August 8, 2014

    Cumin is the best.

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This entry was posted on August 7, 2014 by in M & D Inspiration and tagged .

About Jacque & Jaime

Jaime and Jacque are two gals who discovered a mutual passion for Mediterranean flavors and ingredients and never turned back. They started Mezze & Dolce to share this love, their recipes, and their inspirations with the world. Follow them at www.mezzeanddolce.com.

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