Robin Asbell is a chef, food writer, recipe developer, culinary instructor and speaker who has been teaching cooking classes around the Twin Cities since the 90s. Read our Q&A below to learn more about Robin!
When did you start cooking? Tell us more about your story with food.
My mother was a great cook who took home economics all four years of college, back when educated women were expected to prepare for running a household. My earliest memories in the kitchen were of her teaching me to bake cookies and bread. My father was a professor, and my parents loved to have students from other countries come over and make their specialties for big potluck parties. I always thought food was a great adventure.
I worked in restaurants and bakeries in high school and college, and by the time I got to graduate school I was convinced that I could change the world by cooking in a vegetarian restaurant, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since.
How are your values reflected in your cooking?
I chose to drop out of graduate school years ago because I wanted to be part of a food revolution. I read Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet in high school and wanted to make food lower on the food-chain that was so delicious that everybody would get on board. Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about sustainability, the role of our food choices, and the complex reasons that change is so hard. I’m all about meeting people where they are and helping them eat well, whatever their diet style, while nudging everything in a plant-forward direction.
How do you come up with delicious recipes and ideas for classes at the co-op?
It always starts with the season, so I think about what’s going to be fresh and exciting in a certain moment in time. From there, I hope I can make people’s lives easier by giving them a method that gets a meal on the table. I often think that my role is to keep people from falling into the rut of eating the same things over and over, by putting flavorful, doable recipes out in the world. I’ve written 11 cookbooks and just keep on going!
What staples should every home chef keep in their pantry?
Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and rice vinegars, tamari, tahini, maple syrup, and hot sauce will take you a long way. Having an assortment of dry and canned beans and grains is a must, and some canned tomatoes. Whole grain pasta and crackers come in handy. Peanut butter and jam are always good to have. Basic dried herbs and spices like thyme, cumin, chipotle and turmeric are a good start to a collection.
What is your favorite go-to recipe?
I’m big on improvising veggie-drawer soups to use up produce that is hanging around, or making an easy veggie fried rice with leftover grains.
Take a class with Robin!
Great Global Greens | Tuesday, March 21