Friend of Graza: Jamie Brown-Soukaseume
The James Beard nominated chef behind Ahan, Jamie Brown-Soukaseume, on why you should avoid perfectionism in the kitchen, the best soy sauce, and which legendary Bangkok restaurant she dreams of guest-cheffing for.
Q: How do you describe yourself?
J: Empathetic, passionate, and kindhearted.
Q: Finish this sentence: Cooking for me is __________
J: Cooking for me is therapeutic. It feels like a natural creative outlet for me.
Q: What's your current favorite grocery store find or obsession?
J: Ice cream novelty treats at any Asian markets and different chili oil/crisps.
Q: What’s your go-to crowd-pleaser meal?
J: A simple roasted chicken, roasted vegetables, and any sides that I’ve been thinking about or congee for the colder months.
Q: Who do you turn to, watch, or follow for food inspiration?
J: My mom :), she’s been cooking for over 30 years and continues to have new ideas.
Q: What’s one piece of advice or a practice you see in the food world you think is overrated, overly aspirational, unhelpful, or is otherwise just not the vibe?
J: Perfectionism that leads to waste. I hear about these top restaurants where the chefs will throw product away if it’s not up to their standard. I definitely understand the idea of having a standard, but being wasteful is not a good vibe. They could instead have the cook make a staff meal with the product they can’t use.
Q: What are your all-around life mottos, mantras, philosophies? What guides you in the kitchen?
J: Never stop learning and listen to others and their ideas. This will help you grow as a cook and a person.
Q: Favorite spots in Madison to eat and hang out?
J: We love ordering take out from Swad Indian Restaurant (which is actually in Monona). Recently we’ve had excellent meals at Sardine which is definitely a favorite, but it’s hard to choose just one restaurant! My favorite spot to walk through is the capitol square during the farmers market and also along Lake Monona.
Q: If you could guest chef in any restaurant in the world, which would it be?
J: Raan Jay Fai.
Q: Favorite condiment?
J: Fish sauce or Golden Mountain Seasoning sauce.
Q: What has been bringing you joy lately?
J: My dogs :) , we adopted another puppy 2 months ago.