A book that began as a far-fetched thought in the mind of a former Westside resident has now resulted in the collaboration of nearly 100 restaurants across the country who are all looking to help the communities they serve.
“United We Cook,” is a digital cookbook that features recipes from 100 independent restaurants representing 37 cities across the country, including Santa Monica. The book was created by Nadia Mashar and all of the book’s proceeds will be evenly split between participating restaurants and various food banks in the cities they serve.
“Obviously, I’ve had a lot more time to go for walks so I was seeing a crazy number of restaurants who were having to shut down because they weren’t getting any business,” Mashar said. “I have friends who own restaurants and it was just heartbreaking to hear their stories about how their entire life savings just went down the drain; I really wanted to do something.”
So, Mashar began ordering takeout twice a day before she got the idea to create a book that would list the recipes of people’s favorite restaurants.
Having moved to Dallas from California barely a month before the shutdown happened, Mashar said she knew she would include a lot of restaurants that are based in the Los Angeles area in the book, and she made an effort to feature dishes of different styles and meals that can appeal to anyone.
“I wanted to have diversity in terms of the cuisine and the difficulty of preparing the meals, so there are cuisines representing anything from French to Hawaiian to Russian a little mom-and-pop diner out in Alabama,” Mashar said. And like Santa Monica’s Socalo, which is featured in the digital book, many of the featured recipes originate from award-winning chefs and restaurants.
“Some of these recipes are coming from: chefs who are former contestants and winners of Top Chef and other cooking shows, restaurants who have won or been nominated for James Beard Award, Jean Banchet and Julia Child awards, and even Michelin star winners,” Mashar added. “The book was met with overwhelming support from the restaurants, and I want them to know this wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
“I think it’s cool because I know people who have bought it that have zero interest in cooking but they just want to do their part in supporting local restaurants,” Mashar said.
“The overwhelming support from the restaurants and represented communities are like a blessing,” Mashar said. “We (recently) reached the 100 copies mark, and I hope we can keep getting the book out so we can continue helping.”
“United We Cook” is not for sale at any retailer. A PDF of the digital book can only be bought online at www.unitedwecook.org.