We spoke with Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor and former chef turned fashion photographer Ithai Schori about their highly anticipated new cookbook, Twenty Dinners. Spoiler Alert: We’ve been included in a guest segment that touches on a range of coffee topics—brewing methods, flavor notes, sourcing, and recipes to name a few. Check out the Q&A below and pick up a copy of Twenty Dinners at either of our retail locations beginning Tuesday, April 7th!
Thank you for including us in this staggeringly beautiful cookbook. We’re so delighted to have contributed and look forward to carrying it in our coffee bars this Spring!
Twenty Dinners beautifully illuminates your respective and shared experiences of and pertaining to all things cooking, food, and entertaining—from building cooking foundations to experimenting with ingredients, flavors and techniques in the company of friends and family.
The cookbook features a mélange of delectable recipes and imagery. Can you touch on the role of presentation and plating in your process?
Ithai: Presentation and plating has always been two fold for me. Everyone always eats with their eyes and nose first, so it always needs to make a good first impression. However, the most important thing to me is that your plating help in the eating process and be functional. By that, I mean that you want to plate in such a way that it aids the person eating. So for example when you’re making a salad, you mix the vinaigrette and ingredients together so that each bite has a bit of everything. If you just threw everything on top, it wouldn’t be balanced. The top portion would be heavy and crazy, while the bottom would be dry and bland. So it’s the idea that form and function are meant to go together, not one over the other.
Chris: Plating is important when serving because all five of the senses are at play when you are eating, sight of course is included. The food should be arranged first and foremost according to how all the components should interact/be eaten. Most importantly though, is to think of how you would want to see it on the plate. And then just do that.
What kinds of cooking knowledge and skills did you inherit from your families?
Ithai: To be fearless with food. My parents used to make me try everything. There was a rule at the table, “You have to try it once, if you don’t like it, spit it out, but try it first!” It still holds true. I eat everything! They’re definitely responsible for my willingness to cook without fear of failing and trying things first in order to know how to improve upon them. While others times, knowing to maybe just not cook that again…
Chris: My mom was a great cook who learned from my grandmother. I am inspired by them as teachers. And it inspired to me to want to cook for people, learn more about it myself, and ultimately write something about it.
Do your other creative pursuits ever inspire your cooking? Or vice versa?
Ithai: For sure. My mind tends to wander when I cook. So it’s a good time to just think. It’s generally a calm time amidst the chaos that ensues for most of the day.
Chris: I find various creative pursuits related, I wouldn’t say one creative pursuit directly influences the other. It’s most fun for me to allow pursuits to operate in their own worlds. Trying to connect them too much together often feels forced for me.
We would love to know a little bit more about your rationale behind including coffee brewing methods, techniques, and recipes in Twenty Dinners. Why Sightglass?
Ithai: It was a totally selfish move! I needed a better way to wake up without all the scales and brewing gear, so naturally I needed the pros. When I first met the bros, it was a perfect fit. There was no fuss. It wasn’t pretentious, it was relaxing, while always showing the proper care and attention to their product. It’s the same way I try to approach cooking. I got the feeling that Jerad and Justin make the same cup of coffee at home that they offer in the shop. That’s a good look!
As a coffee company, we would be remiss not to touch on morning rituals. Care to share?
Ithai: I have this super old hand crank coffee grinder. It’s a total pain in the ass and makes a ton of noise and I love every moment of it. The beast is from the early 1900’s and still works like a champ. Can’t start a morning without it.
Any unexpected lessons or insights gleaned from the experience of co-authoring this first cookbook?
Ithai: Writing a recipe is a sure fire way to make you both a worse and a better cook at the same time! It’s not natural. Anytime your head is trying to measure grains of salt or leaves of lettuce, you’re doing a science experiment instead of cooking a meal. It’s why we tried to offer guidelines instead of recipes, because the ultimate goal is to get someone to relax in the kitchen and just dance with what is working. Use what they know and build on that and know that failing is totally cool and a necessity.
Ithai: I’ve got some photo projects in the works, but in the meantime, I’m working on getting a dog. We’ll start there.
Greatest thanks to our lovely friends and authors, Chris & Ithai! Twenty Dinners is now available for purchase at both coffee bars!
Happy cooking (and brewing)!