Boston, MA– The world of celebrity chefs is a peculiar one. It’s a world predicated as much on personality and a questionably derived definition of “star power” as it is culinary skill. Outside of the nearly religious devotion of its patrons, few people had even heard of Les Halles during the late 90s until Anthony Bourdain transformed it into a virtual gastronomic mecca by the sheer dint of a bestselling memoir. Despite the mere mention of his name invoking a Nickelback-esque revulsion for many Americans, Guy Fieri is instantly recognizable as one of the leading “faces” of the food movement—even if millions of viewers would probably never consider eating at a restaurant called “Tex Wasabi’s.” People need a public figure to either revile or cherish despite the fact that their creative or personal output rarely affects their daily lives in any semblance, positive or negative. And that’s as true for Kanye West or Elon Musk as it is for Jamie Oliver or Alton Brown.
Which might be why the popularity of Samin Nosrat is so refreshing.
Nosrat—who once insisted on bringing a journalist from The Guardian to her favorite Chuck E. Cheese’s—doesn’t have an instantly recognizable catch phrase. You’re not likely to see her parodied on Saturday Night Live. She isn’t quirky, smug, or highly animated. In fact, she seems almost aggressively humble. And her 2017 bestseller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, now a Netflix series, helped condense the needlessly intricate methodology in modern cooking to four fundamental elements so simple to remember, they seem practically Zen-like in their applicability.
But I’ve never met her. I’ve never eaten at any of her restaurants or had a meal prepared by her. I’ve never taken any of her classes. I once tried to recreate her recipe for a chicken escabeche and wound up botching it so badly I gorged myself at Taco Bell out of pure shame (who knew you weren’t supposed to use rubber bands in lieu of kitchen twine?).
But those of you with much more sensible tastes might want to take in Nosrat’s encyclopedic knowledge of food preparation when she comes to the Emerson Colonial Theater for a public discussion and book signing on Wednesday May 1st.
I’m of the opinion that probably no more than half a dozen books on cooking are necessary to any kitchen shelf. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat should be one of them. It’s personable, candid, and practical, entirely free from esoteric jargon and wildly extravagant prose. It doesn’t tout cooking as salvation from existential dread, but instead recognizes it as a basic human trait that transcends cultural boundaries.
But I’m not here to laud Samin Nosrat. Her work speaks for itself. And if you’ve had the chance to catch the 4-part Netflix adaptation of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, you’ll probably realize that Nosrat’s appeal isn’t about the pretense of personality, but about technique. With that being said, I’d like to remind Samin that there are several Chuck E. Cheese locations well within driving distance of the Colonial. Unless Sizzler’s more your speed. In which case… we sadly can’t help you.
Samin Nosrat will appear at the Emerson Colonial Theater at 106 Boylston St in Boston on Wednesday, May 1st at 8:00 pm. Tickets go on sale Friday March 15th and range from $35-75. For more information, please visit http://www.emersoncolonialtheatre.com/calendar/an-evening-with-samin-nosrat/