Sarah Butler of Cookshack Catering began her professional cooking career by persuading the head cook in her treeplanting camp to hire her as an eager, and entirely unqualified assistant. Before long, she was a head cook herself and spent five summers working out of a hollowed-out and souped-up old schoolbus: the original cookshack.
She learned to provide a wide variety of dishes to satisfy her ravenous crews, but was never quite happy with her attempts to replicate the complex, delicious curries she’d encountered in Caribbean villages and across the Indian subcontinent.
Determined to expand her repertoire, she booked another flight into New Delhi. Sarah settled for the winter in the city of Varanaci and spent her days wandering the produce markets, learning the Hindi names for spices and vegetables, manoevering her way into a few restaurant kitchens and trying out recipes on a one-burner stove in her room overlooking the Ganges.
Pleasantly surprising her local hosts, the future Cookshack Caterer finally learned how to balance sweet, spicy, salty and sour in her Moong Dal, which is now a popular soup in the Co-op Deli.
Other Cookshack specialties include healthy, portable lunch items and interesting sweets. Sarah’s latest addition to the Deli lineup is a chocolate cupcake with a hint of heat from ground chili peppers, the Cupcake Del Diablo.
Footnote: Sarah claims to have baked more than 15,000 cookies in the last 7 years and may top the 20,000 mark by her 30th birthday!
Date: November 17th, 2004