in partnership
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(Image: Sarah Monson)

Industry cookbook gives you a peek into local cooks' journals

Sarah Monson was looking for ways to connect with her restaurant industry family after the pandemic hit. Colleagues who would normally work shoulder to shoulder suddenly found themselves stuck at home and socially distancing. Monson was certain that there were many others in her industry family experiencing the same sense of a loss of community.

Not one to "lean when there is time to clean," Monson, an industry veteran and cook at Rupee Bar, rolled up her sleeves and got to work gathering recipes from local cooks and bartenders across the region. Those initial recipes occupy the first industry Cook Book which came out early in the pandemic.

From recipes scribbled on napkins, pages torn from moleskins, and sketches of step-by-step instructions, the cookbook struck an intimate chord. Word got out, and copies were snatched up with part of the proceeds going to a handful of worthy causes.

Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, a year later, there is still that need for connection.

Since the first cookbook was so well received, and the pandemic lasted longer than any of us expected, Monson doubled down. She took a second pass through the food and drink community and created a second edition which was released at Rupee Bar on May 25.

Monson has compiled a new batch of recipes from cooks, bartenders and restaurateurs from the Seattle area. In The Cook Book Vol. 2, you’ll find the same heartfelt DIY feel, but with many more from the industry sharing their love of food and community.

"I think most of us have felt anxiety and helplessness during the pandemic," said Tiffany Ran, owner at Ba Ba Lio Taiwanese. "This was a great project to sort of reset and take us out of that frame of mind. I got to draw and introduce a favorite childhood dish. It felt very wholesome, like I was mailing a heartfelt letter to a friend."

Ran knows that sharing is one way that has helped her, and others, through the pandemic. Whether it is sharing our time and memories, cooking or just slowing down to rediscover the small joys in our lives.

"Sharing a recipe or cooking isn't saving the world, but I think it's a good reminder that saving the world isn't even the goal here. The pandemic took so much from us as a society, what have we been able to maintain and preserve despite all this? That was what I was thinking about when I was doodling my recipe on a page," she said.

Celebrated bartender and consultant Jermaine Whitehead added that he was happy to do anything he could to help the hospitality industry. For him, this cookbook seemed like a fun DIY project. Whitehead's contribution to Vol 2 is one of his greatest hits, The Chill Pill.

"I was inspired to make a complex drink that even the timid would find accessible," he said. "Vodka as a base is such a nice way to invite people to the beverage, but underneath is the pineapple shrub paired with the yellow chartreuse. I hope people enjoy it."

The cookbook consists of more than 60 recipes from industry folks across the region. The common theme is the idea that being able to share a part of the work they love has been a welcomed outlet for the community.

Katie Campbell of Westward shared that she was grateful that so many "normal folks" like Monson came forward to help during the pandemic. Her contribution to the cookbook, Baby Come Back, is a cocktail she created in the spring of 2020 — early in the pandemic when we were just becoming accustomed to a new life.

"I wanted something bright and juicy for the sunny weather that was coming on, but I REALLY needed to work with what I had on hand," Campbell said. "So, to be brutally honest, my drink is a bit of a Sunday stew that turned out to be delicious. I had 6 cases of pineapple juice and a grip of that delicious Ancho Verde (it tastes like my Dad's jalapeƱo jelly)."

Monson has pulled together some contributing cooks to celebrate at a book launch on May 25. There will be food, drink and plenty of industry love. And it all goes down at Rupee Bar from 2 – 7 p.m. Tuesday. As advertised: "Come snag your copy and some tasty snacks by the recipe contributors." They promise to cook until they sell out.

Update: The Cook Book Vol 2 has sadly sold out! If you don't already, follow @smonson on Instagram for news on future printings or (and we're totally guessing here), maybe a Vol 3...?