Name: Shakirah Simley
Occupation: Community Coordinator/Canner-in-Residence, Bi-Rite Family of Businesses
Hometown: Harlem, New York City
What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? Do you want to share the recipe? Whatever’s showing off at the farmer’s market, in colorful, multi-textured salad form. On any given Wednesday in late summer, you’ll find me enjoying creamy burrata, dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and sweet white corn atop little gem lettuces.
When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat? Super sour whole dill pickles swimming in a bright green brine (in the pouch!) from the corner bodega. And Mister Softee vanilla soft serve with the requisite rainbow sprinkles.
Who do you admire most in the cooking word (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why? Although she’s no longer with us, I have tremendous respect for the legendary, Edna Lewis – “The Grand Dame of Southern Cooking”. Raised by freed slaves, she grew up to take the culinary world by storm with her style, grace and powerful presence inside and outside the kitchen. Her commitment to freshness and seasonality predate the movement for more sustainable American cuisine, and she brought international attention to genuine Southern cooking. I am constantly inspired by her recipes and techniques and would have loved to meet her.
What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons? I love the folks who come through our doors, with their eagerness to become a part of a more just food system. And Rosie and Olivia are my favorite Dream Team (sorry, 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball). (18 Reasons:we did not pay her to say this. but we should have.)
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be? If the personal is political, then there is nothing more personal nor political than food. Remember that eating and cooking is an act of empowerment, of choice and engagement.
Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town? I live in Oakland, so definitely the Marcom Rose Garden and a jaunt around Lake Merritt. To lure friends into their eventual westward exodus, I’m a big fan of The Punchdown for tasty wine flights and warm, knowledgeable staff, FUSEbox for their inventive, veggie-galore panchan, and Lois the Pie Queen for their chicken and waffles and lemon ice box pie.
What is your favorite park in San Francisco? Buena Vista for its marvelous views of San Francisco (on a clear day, of course)
Is there anything else you would like to share with us? “Love what you do and do what you love” – DJ Jazzy Jeff, “For the Love of the Game”
Join us for Shak’s next class: Capturing the Cusp: Seasonal Preserving for the Practical Cook: Sundays, September 2 and 30, 4-8PM
In this two class preserving series, Shakirah Simley (founder of Slow Jams and Bi-Rite’s Community Coordinator) will teach participants practical applications for capturing fruits in flux. In our “Savoring Summer” class on September 2, Shak will take on peaches, tomatoes and berries, cover an introduction to canning theory, safety and preserving basics, and show you her summer canning secrets for non-runny berry jam and how to tackle tomatoes like a champ. On September 30, “Fall into Fall” with our second course featuring apples, pears, figs and persimmons. She’ll tackle all the tricks to thicker fruit butter, seasonal seasonings and deliciously boozy fruits. You can come to just one or both classes.
Series: $200 for 18 Reasons members; $225 for the general public
Per class: $110 for 18 Reasons members; $125 for the general public