Category: Guest Expert Interviews

Meet Stephanie Sokolove

Preface: This interview took place last year. She is graciously hosting this year’s Table of Life Event at her Estate. What a wonderful partner she has been to the Foodbank!

Onto the Interview: September 2014

The-BEET Stephanie Sokolove

Many of you have heard of the Table of Life Fundraiser that supports the Foodbank’s Feed the Future programs, a sequential series of programs created by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County that fosters nutritional health and independence in children of all ages. This year, on October 5th, the Foodbank is thrilled and proud to have Stephanie Sokolove as Table of Life’s keynote speaker. Stephanie is Owner and Executive Chef to THREE nationally recognized restaurants in the Boston area, Stephanie’s on Newbury, Stephi’s on Tremont, and Stephi’s in Southie.

Stephanie has built her business on a style of cooking that she calls “Sophisticated Comfort,” a style that is fresh, interesting, and yet familiar. “Sophisticated Comfort Food” is the next generation of comfort food in that it blends traditional favorites with today’s food preferences. Dishes are imaginatively created with current, fresher ingredients and bolder flavors then artistically presented. At the restaurant, Stephanie spins familiar classics into elegant dishes that comfort and surprise without being fussy or intimidating.

I sat down with the gracious Stephanie Sokolove to ask her some questions about her health and food philosophies, and of course I couldn’t help but ask a little about her restaurants.

The BEET Question 1To me healthy is waking up and feeling good; feeling energetic, clear headed and ready to face the day.

The BEET Question 2

It’s important to be able to function at your top level.  If were not healthy it’s hard to get through the day.  For example, I play golf.  To feel and play my best, I don’t eat big meals beforehand, as I need to feel light to play well.

The BEET Question 3

It’s got to play into it. But I believe survival probably comes first before health. If people knew where healthy choices were offered, I think they would make the right choice. But people don’t always know where to get healthy foods.   If we can get this message out to the community, I think that would be amazingly welcomed. What kills me is to see overweight kids, eating unhealthy foods, they can’t feel well!

The BEET Question 4

Personal health choices and restaurant services can be conflicting, as, what makes food delicious is not necessarily what you should eat every day.  However in my restaurants, everything is fresh, nothing comes out of a can; fresh is best.  That is a requirement to make food delicious.  Sugar, butter, and salt tend to make food taste better but we have cut back on these things for our health.   So we also offer dishes with less butter, less cream, and use fresh sauces instead of cream sauces for fish. California food has seen an evolution over the last 20 years.  It was known for its heavy comfort foods, but now we are seeing lighter comfort foods and fresher options like all kinds of amazing salads.

The BEET Question 6 I believe the Avocado is the healthiest single food we could eat.  And it is so versatile!  Substitute for oil and butter.  It’s a Fruit/ vegetable that is worth experimenting with;  Salads, sauces, baking.  Salads don’t need oil, ripe avocado gives salad a lovely creamy texture.

The BEET Question 8 Working in a restaurant where food is abundant, you become unaware of how much food is needed.  Working with the Foodbank has been an eye-opener to me.




Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s CEO Erik Talkin Talks Thanksgiving

Erik with Daughter Mia

Erik with Daughter Mia

The BEET Question 1

“Prior to working at the Foodbank, I worked in Community Soup Kitchens for 6 years and my view of the holidays and my approach to it has never been the same.  We recognize that Thanksgiving is usually a day to get together, share with one another and make sure everyone has enough to eat.  But we should not stop on this day.  We should be figuring out how to make this possible the other 364 days of the year. We want to encourage the idea of Thanksgiving traditions, people getting together and cooking together as a family as a model for all the other days.  We often don’t think we have the time to cook together, but we actually do if we count it as the time we spend together and relate with each other as a family.  It should be continued regularly as something healthy to do together.”

The BEET Question 2

“I was brought up in England where they didn’t have Thanksgiving, but because my father was in the US Navy and we were Americans we would have Thanksgiving even though other people didn’t.  We would have a pretty standard Thanksgiving meal, we liked to make different types of stuffing, like a pretzel stuffing or a buckwheat stuffing…”

The BEET Question 3

“Yes I do, but actually this year is the first year that my family will be going to my oldest son’s house in Oakland and he’s going to cook the meal for us, rather than have the meal cooked for him. So were looking forward to that…It’s a whole new chapter…”

The BEET Question 4

“The most important thing we can do is to not focus on Thanksgiving as a special day.  Yes we want to make sure that everyone has a turkey and enough to eat on Thanksgiving, but the main thing that we need to take from this is, what happens let’s say in February? People are still going to be hungry in February.  What’s going to happen in the summer when the sun’s beating down in Santa Barbara and we think everything is wonderful? Families are still very food insecure then, so security is about being fed throughout the year, not having a feast and famine situation which only plays into ill health that is related to nutrition.”

the BEET Quetion 5

“I like stuffing, good stuffing, stuffing with buckwheat or with large Dutch pretzels…I’m definitely a stuffing guy!”

The BEET Question 6

“I’m thankful that we have such a great group of employees, volunteers, and supporters at the Foodbank who really do bring the Thanksgiving spirit the whole year round rather than the energy only being around the one time of year.  I’m very thankful for that.”

The BEET Question 7

“We want to encourage people to eat responsibly and to remember that once the New Year comes, people are still hungry and food insecure then, so it’s all about spreading the love throughout the year.  We’d also love people to inspire those in their family to be more involved with cooking and more involved with food as a way of strengthening the family and strengthening everyone’s health.”

Interview By Erin Hansen, RDN

The BEET: Meet Rhianna King, RD

Rhianna King, RDRhianna King is a clinical registered dietitian at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, and works with cancer patients at the Mission Hope Cancer Center to provide appropriate nutritional counseling, information and recommendations. She currently serves as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Marian. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University in 2009 with a Bachelors of Sciences in Nutrition. She completed her Dietetic Internship through Cal Poly as well. She encourages patients and clients to focus on eating mostly plants to optimize their health and prevent/fight disease. She embodies what it means to be a connected and caring nutrition professional and registered dietitian, whose focus is to provide evidence based nutrition information throughout Santa Maria.

The BEET Q1“To me being healthy means feeling your best both physically and mentally to enjoy life to its fullest. This includes engaging in activities like healthy eating and regular physical activity that keeps your body functioning as it should.”

The BEET Q2“Our health directly impacts our quality of life. Living healthy means a longer life, less time spent in the hospital, and less time spending money on medications and procedures that have the potential to be prevented through proper nutrition and physical activity. Food fuels our body and has everything we need in it for optimal health. If you look at the composition of a tomato for example versus a human being you might be surprised at all the similarities; water, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. Our body is capable of so many amazing things and proper nutrition is the required fuel.”

The BEET Q3“My motivation comes from my desire to have a positive impact in the lives of the people around me. I have knowledge in a particular field that can improve health, prevent and treat disease, and that knowledge needs to be shared. I want to help people take charge of their health and improve their lives.”

The BEET Q4“I think food insecurity can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Inadequate nutrition can also cause social anxieties and behavioral changes all leading to poor quality of life.”

The-BEET-GI-Question-5“Food First! I try to instill in everyone that consuming a variety of foods is the best way to achieve optimal nutrition, NOT through a pill. There is no “magic” single food or dietary supplement that creates the perfect diet. The FUNdamentals with Food class I started at the cancer center serves to be educational about healthy diet practices by exposing our patients to the variety of healthy foods we talk about through cooking demonstration and lecture. I always comment that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or taste bad and its part of my job as nutrition professional and advocate to prove that to you.”

The BEET Q6“Enjoy a diet that is 2/3 plant based and experience great health for yourself!”

For more information about the FUNdamentals of Food Class and other health and wellness classes run through the Mission Hope Cancer Center, please click here.

And check out Rhianna King’s Article The Red, White, and Blue of Summer Produce that shares the Nutrition Power of summer fruits and vegetables.