Friend of Graza: Jamie Brown-Soukaseume

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.