Meet the lovely Saehee Cho, the LA-based artist, cook and baker who recently launched her catering company Soo N. I first tasted Saehee’s food at a trunk show for Grace Lee, hosted by Clare Vivier. The food was divine and the presentation was perfection. I started following Soon N on Instagram and am obsessed with her recipe sketches and cakes decorated with flowers and candied citrus. I invited Saehee into my kitchen, where she arrived with a Grapefruit Cake with Coconut Vanilla Glaze, jars of her Soon N pantry items and the ingredients for her Ani Toast (check out the beautiful handdrawn recipe above).
Heather Taylor: What was your inspiration for starting Soo N?
Saehee Cho: Food has always been defining, not only in my life, but for my entire family. My maternal side is heavy with excellent, accomplished cooks. My grandmother taught cooking professionally and did a few cooking shows back in her day. I look to her as my primary inspiration. Food has been a vehicle for her constant curiosity and her desire to learn all there is to learn about the kitchen. I loved and still love cooking with her.
HBT: You studied art at CalArts. How does your artistic practice factor into cooking?
SC: I treat food like a practice, the same way I treat my writing practice. In both endeavors, I value the creative process as much as I do the actual result. I received my MFA in Creative Writing at Calarts and my artistic intention is the same with food as it is with writing: I am trying to create poetry with food! I’m in love with the research, the tedium, the copious note taking—all the build-up and ephemeral inspiration that makes food and poetry possible.
HBT: I’m in love with the Soo-N pantry items! Where can they be purchased and what kind of things are you cooking up these days?
SC: I’m creating seasonal Jam, Butters, and Sauces for online retail, available at SOO-N.COM. The Jam Series is something of a love letter to all my friends and the people who have supported me along the way. Each Jam will be a very personal interpretation using a palate of seasonal ingredients.
HBT: What is your process for recipe development? We have seen some mighty beautiful sketches on your instagram account.
SC: My process for recipe development is informed first and foremost by seasonality. Los Angeles is ridiculously lucky with the variety of produce available to us. Walking through my favorite farmers markets, talking to vendors, smelling all that ripe fruit…that experience is definitely part of the process.From there, it’s all about tedium, which is a very creative mode for me. My best work, in writing or in food, is the result of allowing myself to enjoy the tedium of a task. I’ll diagram a dish by dissecting each flavor component and then see how they all fit together through a sketching process. I find that while I’m drawing out the sketches I’ll often feel the recipe adapting/changing/finessing. I also find that handwriting my recipes helps slow down my head and forces me to be more thoughtful about my development process.
HBT: Now that you’ve been launched your business, what’s on the horizon Soo N?
SC: We are looking into opening a brick and mortar, hopefully within the next year! SOO N Kitchen will be equal part catering event space, bakery, and lunch spot.