After BakeSale for Japan: What’s Next for Samin Nosrat

by Erika Shimahara

Cooking, Organizing, Teaching, Writing and Edible Education:
What’s next for Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat at Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
Samin Nosrat at Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

In April, San Francisco Bay Area cook Samin Nosrat organized bake sales across the country to raise funds for the victims of the March 11th tsunami in Japan.  Her goal was to surpass the $23,000 she helped raise at a similar event last year for the earthquake in Haiti. Stunning even her own hopes of quadrupling that figure, Bakesale for Japan raised $140,000—more than six times that amount.

So what’s on tap for this vibrant community organizer, who also cooks, teaches and writes?  Like a productive chef, Samin has many things cooking at the moment—she just finished organizing another Pop-Up General Store, teaching a class in Understanding Acid, and is preparing for a special Tartine After Hours dinner today featuring cook/food videographer Daniel Klein of Perennial Palate.  Her next big undertaking will be Eating for Education, a campaign to broaden the reach of The Edible Schoolyard founded by Alice Waters. It will be showcased at Chez Panisse’s 40th anniversary celebrations taking place August 26-29th.

Broadly speaking, Eating for Education aspires to educate the public about such things as where food comes from, how to prepare it, its interaction with culture, and growing food in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

“Many different tiers of events have been planned for everyone,” Samin said, of the anniversary. Indeed, there will be an extravaganza of fundraising dinners around the San Francisco Bay Area, including a pig roast at Michael Pollan’s house, a celebration at food icon Cecilia Chiang’s Marin home—with Ruth Reichl—and free workshops and events at the Berkeley Art Museum. In the meantime, Samin is hard at work. She is actively recruiting restaurants across the country to donate a percentage of their proceeds from the weekend to a school garden in their own communities. In addition, she is assembling a tool kit and resources for those who want to host dinners of their own.

All funds raised from Chez Panisse’s birthday will go to the Edible School yard which will evolve into a national hub for school gardens across the country—not only Berkeley. Samin hopes that Eating for Education will “bring edible education into schools in the same way that in the 70s and 80s of the last century physical education was really universally instituted into schools as a part of the curriculum.”

Like the food she promotes, Samin’s projects have an organic nature to them, borne not out of a job description or singular profession but out of a desire to bring people together around delicious food for a social good. “I don’t fit into a box and I don’t feel a need to or a desire to, and that’s been liberating,” she said, “I do the things I care about in life.”