Written By: Gabby De la Rosa (@eats.by.gabby)
Published: September 7, 2020
Sarah Robles: @thesacramentochef
Sarah Robles is a Sacramento professional Chef who shares delicious healthy recipes and cooking videos on her instagram page. Sarah, also known as thesacramentochef on instagram, was born in Southern California, lived in Utah, and has settled in Elk Grove, California. Sarah shares her love for cooking through her instagram food blog and website!
TheSacramentoChef takes on the "hot-seat":
(The goal behind the "hot-seat" is to say the first thing that comes to mind when asked 3 questions.)
1. Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Sarah Robles, I'm 33 Years old and currently live in Elk Grove, California. I've lived in Elk Grove for about 3 1/2 years. I'm a mommy of 3 and happily married to my husband of 11 years. My family is very important to me. My kids Andrea (age 11), Matthew (age 10) and Colette (age 5) are my world. I love sharing my passion for cooking with my children. On weekends my kids and I love all gathering in the kitchen to cook. My career as a chef is important to me as it's what comes naturally to me (to cook) and is something I genuinely enjoy doing.
2. Favorite meal you’ve made in the last month?
This one's a tough question. I enjoy cooking so many things. I think my favorite two dish I've made in the last month would have to be homemade pork and veggie dumplings with a homemade mushroom miso soup, burdock/raw honey tea, sticky rice with ikura and sauteed shiitake mushrooms/fried shiso leaf & fried lotus root. My second favorite dish was a slow cooked Chinese 5 spice glazed pork belly with a mushroom hash topped with a sunny side up egg.
3. Are you more of a sweet or savory type of person?
I definitely have a sweet tooth. I enjoy both savory and sweet but I have a weakness for pastries, ice creams and custards. I love trying different desserts from around the world. I love everything from halo halo ( a sweet Filipino drink made with custard, condensed milk, ube (purple potato), shaved ice, jackfruit, sweet red beans and jackfruit), classic vanilla creme Brule to a delicious Japanese Taiyaki ice cream (which is that cute fishy shaped cone with vanilla or green tea ice cream with sweet red bean paste).
1. What inspired your love for food and what keeps that love going?
I've always had a love for food as far back as I can remember. Growing up, my parents did their best to raise me and my two siblings on a one-person salary but we grew up without a lot of food in our house. I had to get creative and make myself snacks and meals out of whatever we had in the house. I would also spend a lot of time during my summer breaks as a kid with my grandma, she wasn't the typical grandma who baked or cooked for her grandkids. She was adventurous and loved to travel everywhere. She hated cooking at home (with the exception of making her famous potato salad) and preferred to eat out. I didn't mind eating out every now and then, but we would eat out every day with her. Somedays I just wanted a nice home cooked meal, so she would take me to the grocery store and let me shop for the foods I liked. She would let me create my own menus for the week to make for not only us but for my cousins who would also stop by her house to visit during the summer. This really helped me discover my love for food because it gave me the freedom to experiment with things I normally did not have in my house and gave me the freedom to make whatever it is I wanted. My grandma always encouraged me to keep cooking and would give me the constructive feedback I needed to make my food better. She would try all of my food fails with a smile on her face and would continue to let me have my freedom to shop and cook anytime I wanted.
What keeps my love for cooking going is the memory of my grandma and my love for the arts. Now that I am older and have a family of my own, I love to cook for my husband and three kids. Cooking not only keeps the memory of my grandma alive but I hope to pass down my love for food to my children. I enjoy teaching my kids how to cook and enjoy being creative with how I plate. The memory of my grandma, my family and my passion for art and to create keeps my love for food going.
2. Any dream destinations/cities you would like to visit regarding their food/food culture?
Yes! I have always wanted to go to Japan. I absolutely love the Japanese culture and would love to experience first-hand what it's like to live in Japan. My dream vacation would be to roam around Japan, visiting all of the tea houses, sushi places and learning the traditional Japanese ways of cooking and living. There's something so beautiful about the Japanese culture. Everything they do is an art and has a specific purpose. The way they dress, cook, build their traditional houses and the way they have such respect for one another. I love the attention to detail the Japanese have when creating a dish. It not only looks beautiful but everything on that plate serves a purpose and is meant to be eaten a certain way. Each dish is made from scratch and is labor intensive. Every dish made is balanced and has that umami flavor and is made from the freshest locally grown produce. I aspire to learn their ways of cooking and I try to incorporate that into my own style of cooking.
3. Are there any common questions or mistakes that beginner cooks may ask or do?
The most common mistakes I see beginner cooks make are, under or over seasoning their food, not knowing how to create a balanced dish, and knife skills.
Most cooks beginning in a professional kitchen can feel overwhelmed, everything is a lot different than what you're used to in your kitchen at home. Meals prepared in a professional setting are often prepared in larger batches and require bigger bowls, blenders, pans and utensils. Cooking on a larger scale is overwhelming and requires you to know basic measurements and conversions and to be familiar with larger kitchen equipment. Learning how to operate the larger kitchen equipment comes with time and experience but there are some things that helped me know my way around a professional kitchen better.
The first mistake I see a lot of chefs make is not trying your food as you cook. Both veteran chefs and beginning cooks learn to rely on following recipes and forget to always taste before serving a dish to a customer. It's important to keep a few tasting spoons on hand to test the seasoning of your dishes, whether that's in a professional kitchen or if you're cooking at home. Tasting food goes along with creating a balanced dish. Often times I see ambitious cooks adding spices or garnishes to a plate that don't necessarily compliment the dish as a whole. Cooking is an art of balancing the right flavors and creating balanced dishes. It's important to know your flavor profiles and know what will enhance your dish and what might overpower a dish or create an unbalance to your dish.
A good example is making a sauce to go with a dish. A red wine sauce is often better paired with a heavy meat dish like a steak where as a white sauce has a different, lighter taste and pairs better with delicate dishes like fish.
Another question I get asked a lot are about knife skills. Are proficient knife skills really needed to make it as a chef or successful cook? The answer is yes. If you love cooking, then chances are you've watched the popular T.V. show, Worst Cooks In America on the Food Network Channel. If you know who Chef Anne Burrell is (the one with the quirky blonde spiked hair), you'll know that she has a big pet peeve about chefs holding their knives wrong. Proper knife skills are a huge part of working in a kitchen. It's not only important to have proper knife skills for safety reasons but to be able to cut things the same size so they cook at the same rate. If all of your vegetables in your soup are cut all different sizes, you'll have some over cooked and others undercooked. You don't need to spend tons of money to attend a Culinary school to learn knife skills. These days with YouTube you can easily find videos (even from well-known celebrity chefs) on how to properly hold a knife and how to cut various meats, veggies etc.
4. Are there famous chefs you try to cook like? Does anyone inspire how you cook certain dishes?
As a food lover I'm constantly watching the Food Network Channel but when I was younger, growing up in the 90's, there weren't many cooking shows at the time. The only cooking show that came on was on Saturday mornings and was called Great Chefs of the World.
The show featured chefs from all over the world who would show you how to cook a signature dish. I spent most of my childhood skipping the cartoons and instead watching Great Chefs of the World. I know I was a weird kid but I truly did enjoy watching all of
these chefs create dishes that I had never seen before. It amazed me how much knowledge and passion they had about cooking and how they could channel all that passion into one beautiful dish. I would say that I don't have one cook in particular that I am inspired
by. I like to look at videos from a lot of unknown chefs and get inspiration from the many dishes I see being made. I do however have a love for the original Iron chef shows and admire Chef Morimoto. I have a love for Asian cuisine, especially Japanese cuisine and love how he brings unusual herbs and untraditional spices into his dishes
5. Is there any advice you would give to people who want to begin a food/cooking blog?
My advice to anyone wanting to start a food or cooking blog of their own is to first have a deep passion for food. Food should be something that genuinely interests you and makes you want to learn more about it. It's important to find a niche in cooking that you enjoy and want to share with others. Maybe you like to cook with hard-to-find ingredients? Or maybe you want to appeal to an audience that wants easy-to-cook recipes? Whatever it may be find your niche and start posting what you are passionate about. If you are passionate about something it will show in your work and in anything you post.
Creating appealing food pictures is a big must if you wish to start your own food blog. Contrary to what most people believe you don't need to run out and buy an expensive camera. Most smartphones today have descent cameras and with a few minor setting adjustments on your smartphone camera you can take good pictures. Play with lighting and don't over use filters.
One last word of advice to starting your own blog is that google is your friend. If there are things you are unsure about, researching is best. Do your homework and have google answer some of the more difficult things, such as creating a webpage to start a blog or creating a food blog through Instagram.
6. What opportunities has being a professional cook given you? What future opportunities do you look forward to? I have had many great opportunities working in the Culinary Industry. I have been fortunate enough to work at many fine dining restaurants both here in Sacramento and in Southern California. I've worked for 4 diamond resorts, such as Ponte Winery in Southern, California to popular chain restaurants like P.F. Changs working as a dim sum chef. Being a chef has allowed me so many great opportunities. A few years ago, when I lived in Utah, I was able to show case some of my famous pumpkin empanadas on the local news channel as a part of a local Thanksgiving cooking contest. My love for food also lead met to pursue to model and be in a food campaign for Raley's Grocery store. I've cooked for a few celebrities like the cast of CSI and for a few well known voice actresses in the Disney movie Frozen. With each cooking job I've had I've been able to learn and better myself and my cooking.
7. What is your long-term goal as a chef?
Some of my long-term goals as a chef is to create a larger following and to help educate others on how to create delicious healthy fine dining dishes.
My focus is on helping people with chronic pain. I suffer from endometriosis which is a chronic pain disorder that affects women. I would love to reach out to others like myself or others who are also on a path to wellness through diet and share my cooking health tips.
Also, one day I would love to have a line of healthy food items in store. I currently make a walnut, almond, cashew raw honey nut butter without palm oil or any preservatives that I would love to see in stores one day.
I hope to continue my food journey and help others as I go. I love learning new things and think it's important for anyone whether you are in the Culinary business or not to stay humble and stay true to yourself. There's always room to grow and to learn from others.