The Loma Prietan - May/June 2009

Author-Chef Espouses Cool Eating

by John Velcamp

Laura Stec was inspired by an "NPR driveway moment." Photo: Christine Krieg
Laura Stec was inspired by an "NPR driveway moment." Photo: Christine Krieg

Laura Stec, the author of Cool Cuisine, talked with the LP about the deep connection between our environment and our food.

What inspired you to write Cool Cuisine?

Since the late 1980s, I have been working in conservation, and food was my entrée. The catalyst was an NPR driveway moment when a Food and Agriculture Organization expert was speaking on the effect of livestock in general on global warming, and the idea for a book catalyzed. My original title was The Global Warming Diet and the proposal co-authored with Dr. Cordero was picked up immediately.

How has Cool Cuisine been received so far?

I have a lot of presentations coming up and the book has been well received since October. It has been a different experience for me as a first-time author. The feedback takes longer than in my experience as a chef, where the feedback lasts a meal. My intention is to appeal to the non-converted with a quick, fun read. Caring for the environment should not be a private club.

What are "high-vibe" foods?

That is definitely a Laura term. It's looking at the total energy of food from its physical make-up in growing to the loving preparation in cooking. There is a vibrating aspect to the freshest of food, and bringing the essence out in cooking is exciting.

Your heroes?

Farmers, and others in the environmental movement trying to make a difference. Anyone who has a broader appreciation of outcomes other than monetary gain. And of course my macrobiotics teachers, Hermon and Cornellia Aihara.

Your next project?

I am working on a cookbook combining vegan and carnivore cuisines. I will serve on the Silicon Valley Foodshed Assessment for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to create a policy on our regional food system. As an adjunct faculty member of the Culinary School at the Art Institute of California, I will be teaching the first food and environment course in a fully accredited culinary school.

Any recommendations for our readers?

Number one is to eat less livestock or cut it out entirely. Second, deepen your knowledge of what it means to be fed, the relationship and the quality of the process. And third, do something with your food waste—give it a second life.