Uncharted Earth: An interview with Sabrina Wingate
Culture — 07.06.23
Sabrina hands me another piece of toasted bread with spiced compote as she tells me about the latest night market she is working on. She is focused on highlighting as many family-owned restaurants as possible and this time she would like to bring in plant-based offerings. Somehow between programming events with 50 food vendors and having a full-time job Sabrina Wingate finds the time to fish for her own ingredients and develop innovative recipes. Her determination to have people create a new and nuanced relationship with food is undeniable. She is constantly trying to create a world where we experience food in community and feel a true sense of connection to the ingredients and dishes we are presented with.
In this exclusive interview, Teeth sits down with Sabrina as she dives into her history with fishing and where her interest in food sustainability comes from.
How did you make your way into the culinary world?
Growing up in San Francisco, I was fortunate to be exposed to different cuisines. My favorite things: sourdough and seafood are heavily available there. With my mother working in the food industry, I was exposed to the vibrant atmosphere of bustling kitchens and food-centric events. I was immediately interested in being involved to some degree, so my mom put me in cooking and baking classes whenever I had a holiday. It ignited a deep interest in becoming a professional baker.
It sounds like you got started pretty young. How did you expand on baking and dive into cooking?
My culinary aspirations took a backseat during college, but they were reignited when I had the privilege of working closely with a chef in Seattle and interning at an urban farm in San Francisco. Returning to the restaurant space exposed me to the art of harvesting, foraging, and skillfully cooking with seafood and seasonal ingredients, rekindling my passion for the culinary arts. My internship is what truly transformed my culinary journey. Working there, I learned the beauty of seasonal produce, farming in a microclimate, and the importance of sustainability. It sparked my curiosity about ingredients and led me to delve into extensive research on grains and their culinary applications.
It sounds like the urban farm was very influential for you. Once you moved on from that was there someone who mentored you? How did you further your thoughts on food?
No one in particular. I think listening to tv, reading online, and watching the chefs I’ve worked for and been around has visually taught me.
It seems like you have more or less carved your own path. What inspires you most about cooking and working with seafood?
What fascinates me about sea life is that it really is uncharted earth. Even as someone like me who has lived in major seafood capitals along the west coast, seafood is easily accessible to consume, but not to harvest or source yourself as an average person. I think that’s why I choose the exploration of sealife as my hobby. I travel to fish and learn a trade that’s normal to some but unbothered to many. Why not embrace the abundance of nature’s offerings? It’s my favorite feeling to catch my own food and cook it shortly after. It’s my version of mindful eating.