When people ask how I started cooking, I tell them that it was a survival mechanism. I love my mom, but aside from a couple of basic (and frankly questionable) dishes like taco salad with Thousand Island dressing and ground turkey, she can’t cook. Instead, I inherited my love of cooking from her late mother, Grandma Hattie — who was known for stick-to-your-ribs dishes like fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and stewed green beanswith tomatoes and bacon. Meanwhile, my paternal grandmother, Louise, instilled a love of dining and trying new foods. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the influence of these women.
It turns out I’m not alone. For Mother’s Day, I spoke with several San Francisco chefs and food makers to learn how their mothers, grandmothers and other maternal figures inspired and helped to shape their culinary careers.