Nathan + Sarah, The Interview
Ambassadors of fresh food, Chef Nathan Lyon and Sarah Forman are our latest couple on All is Fare in Love + Food.
A television veteran, Nathan has hosted numerous shows such as PBS's Growing a Greener World + A Lyon in the Kitchen, which premiered on both Discovery Health + Fit TV, in addition to being one of the 'Final Four' on Next Food Network Star. All of which garnered him an Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Host in 2013.
Now with his new cook book, Great Food Starts Fresh, (named to Washington Post's "Top Cookbooks" list), Chef Lyon shows you how to keep your kitchen seasonal all year long while maximizing local, fresh ingredients to cook up great food.
What was the first meal the two of you shared?
Sarah: I had just moved to LA and I asked our mutual friend, Scott, whom we both knew for at least 15 years (but he had never introduced us) if he could arrange a day for us all to get together to cook. (I wanted to get back into cooking and step up my knife skills as in ‘how do you use a knife’ and I knew Nathan was a chef.) We grilled a bunch of food that day, none of which I can remember, but I did made a vegan blueberry pie (I was vegan then) with a heart cut out of the top crust.
Nathan: Scott doesn’t have a sweet tooth so we never have dessert. However, I do. When Sarah said she was going make a vegan blueberry pie I was pretty excited. I love pie! I’d never had a vegan pastry before and was curious how she made delicious pasty without butter. It was beautiful. Sundays I usually head over to Scott’s place (right after shopping at the Hollywood farmers market), we hang out, cook, and drink wine. Scott had given me the heads up that Sarah was coming but was eating vegan at the time so I made some eggplant caponata with grilled artichokes. We cut some lemons in half and made a crazy good lemon shallot citronette to squeeze over the artichokes. By the end of the day, we were stuffed, but of course found plenty of room for the pie.
Who cooks + who cleans?
Sarah: We take turns cooking and cook together a lot of the time. For the most part, Nathan cleans. I try to clean the dishes, but I have to admit, he does a way better job. (I swear I am trying my best!) He has even banned me from cleaning the dishes at times - it’s so great! Let’s just call him a perfectionist when it comes to doing dishes.
Nathan: When it comes to cooking there have been times when we each have an idea to create something new and find ourselves creating totally different dishes at the same time. It’s like dancing. Kitchen choreography at it’s best. It’s true. A clean kitchen is such a beautiful thing. Back in the day when I had roommates I would always get a little bummed when reaching for a “clean” utensil, pot, or coffee mug only to find a light film of grease on the handle. Maybe if I weren’t a chef it wouldn’t bother me so much. After all these years washing dishes has evolved into a sort of meditation for me. After the kitchen is clean, it’s like a blank canvas- I feel totally relaxed. A clean kitchen has so much potential! A clean kitchen makes me want to play.
Favorite dish the other makes?
Sarah: This changes all the time. We shop at the farmers market weekly and cook what’s in season, so things vary. Recently, we got on an ice cream kick. Nathan’s fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream is the bomb. I had to actually ask him to stop making it because I was eating it A LOT.
Nathan: Tough call. Last week Sarah made a different fish taco everyday for five straight days. They were awesome. Yesterday she made a mean shakshucka. Last week her maple spiced Brussels Sprouts were unstoppable. As I type this very sentence Sarah is making some sort of curry dish using fresh leaves from her tiny curry plant outside. It smells insane in here!
Favorite foodie destination?
Sarah:We LOVE to get out and try new places. Whether it be a food adventure with our friends (trying out a handful of new spots in the LA area) or traveling out of LA, we are always excited to try new things. As far as Los Angeles goes, one of our favorite restaurants is Bestia.
Nathan:We’ve only eaten at Bestia once, but that one time was all it took. It was that good. In Northern California we love going to Zazu (in Sonoma). In Atlanta, I’d have to say Spice to Table. When you think of a restaurant and find yourself smiling that’s a pretty good foodie destination.
What drew you to food?
Sarah: I have such wonderful memories cooking with my father growing up (he was the cook in the family). He instilled a love for trying out new recipes. I may have strayed in and out of the kitchen over the years, but I always find myself feeling best when I’m cooking and I naturally gravitate to the kitchen. This is true especially since meeting Nathan. He brings out the best in my cooking and creativity in the kitchen.
Nathan:Growing up in Arlington, Virginia we lived only a few houses up from my paternal grandparents. It was with my grandparents where I learned how to garden, harvest, can, freeze and ultimately prepare seasonal food. As I grew older my mom slowly gave me more and more responsibility for preparing the family meal. I loved every second. Food brings family and friends together. Magic happens in the kitchen.
Where does your food inspiration come from?
Sarah: This changes a lot, too. It can be a new item at the farmers market, a dish I recently had when eating out or even just hearing about different foods I never thought to pair together. I love playing with spices and exploring different cuisines.
Nathan:I agree with Sarah about the farmers market, but it’s when we go out to eat and sample new flavor combinations, textures, and spices that my brain really starts to crank out new ideas.
What person, living or dead, would you most like to cook dinner for?
Nathan: I would love to have had the opportunity to cook for my grandparents.
Sarah:Oh, the pressure! To pick just one?! It’s too much!
Favorite seasonal ingredient?
Sarah:I’m such a sucker for a fresh, ripe peach – it’s such a rare and delicious treat, I can never pass it up.
Nathan:I used to sell fruit for a particular farmer for over a decade and of all the varieties he grew it was the freestone sub-acid yellow nectarine that blew my mind. It has a firm yet forgiving flesh, tons of juice, with the flavor of somewhere between a mango and yellow peach. It’s ridiculous.
Local artisanal treat of choice?
Sarah: Cheese. French cheese. “Made” by a dear friend of ours who is a cheese affineur. Rodolphe Le Meunier. He exports some of his cheeses (and his butter) to New York, California, even Texas. Thank goodness! We met him at a food show a few years ago and ate through a very large collection of his cheese. It was love at first sight… and taste.
Nathan: I totally agree. Rodolphe’s cheeses will have you pondering the meaning of life they are so delicious.
If you had to choose your last meal, where/what would it be?
Sarah:I would probably want to be surrounded by friends and family and have a feast – like a Thanksgiving – where we all cook together and share food over many hours, eating until we get sleepy. Yup, just like Thanksgiving.
Nathan:I’m not sure what, but I can answer where. Someplace within sight of the ocean but high up on a ridge so that I could watch the sunset as I enjoyed the many courses of my last meal among family and friends. There would be amazing wine and Champagne pairings, of course. Later, after the sun had set, we would all retire for dessert and dessert wine near an outdoor fireplace. Then, with the sound of the ocean and the crackling of the wood fire, I would wait until the cool air rolled in, wrap up in a soft throw, lean back in a comfy chair, and look up at the stars. Perhaps while sipping a Port. Total happiness.
Favorite restaurant or food experience?
Nathan:I can’t think of a favorite restaurant per se but I do have a food experience that affected me. While I was Buenos Aires shooting the second season of my old cooking show “A Lyon in the Kitchen” two of my producers and I went out for dinner. I ordered a foie gras mousseline appetizer that, after a single bite, caused my eyes to close and my fork to slowly lower to the table. It was the only time in my life when the texture, acidity, richness, flavor- everything you would want in a single bite, was in perfect harmony. I remember my producer asking me if I was okay. I answered, “No. No, I’m not.” It was awesome.
Sarah:Nathan and I were able to eat at one of Robuchon’s restaurants in Las Vegas. I had a bite of potatoes that made me tear up they were so good - unforgettable.
What do you both enjoy doing outside the kitchen?
We love to travel. Get outdoors. Exercise. Go out to eat. Drink a lot of coffee. However as of late we can’t seem to get enough of our good friends Aarti and Brendan’s 1-year-old nicknamed, “Boodle.” If you saw her you would get it. She’s that cute.
What’s your favorite kitchen soundtrack?
Nathan:For me music is as varied as my taste for different foods. Sometimes it’s Portishead, Nick Drake or Slum Village. Other times its Lake Street Dive, Dave Brubeck or Ravi Shankar. It often depends on factors such as how many shots of espresso I’ve consumed, time of day, and whether or not I’m cooking solo. I have a tendency to lean more towards the world of hip-hop such as Black Star, The Roots, J Dilla or D’Angelo. Give me a good beat and I can happily cook forever.
Sarah:Nathan is usually the first to turn on music in the house and there’s always a great variety, so I let him DJ for me!
Stay up-to-date with Nathan + check out his new cookbook Great Food Starts Fresh.
"Nathan has mastered the art of using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients to create delicious recipes...the perfect philosophy." - Curtis Stone
Cookbook:Great Food Starts Fresh