A new cookbook designed to help restaurants struggling with coronavirus-related closures includes two recipes from La Jolla’s Nine-Ten restaurant, 910 Prospect St., at the Grande Colonial Hotel.
Nadia Mashar, a former University Town Center-area resident now based in Dallas, worried about the fate of restaurants nationwide after stay-at-home orders went into effect.
“Walking down the street, seeing all the restaurants shutting down, it was heartbreaking to hear their stories. I wanted to do something on a bigger scale,” she said.
Mashar developed the idea for a cookbook featuring recipes from restaurants across the country.
“I wanted to have involvement from cities where I lived or have a personal connection through traveling, plus others as well,” she said.
The final product, “United We Cook,” features 100 restaurants in 37 cities, with “close to 200 recipes from 20-plus different cuisines,” Mashar said. In addition to Nine-Ten, it includes recipes from two other area eateries: Herb & Wood in San Diego and Trattoria Ponte Vecchio in Del Mar.
All proceeds from the sale of “United We Cook” will go to the participating restaurants and to food banks in the cities represented, Mashar said.
“I wanted to give people something of value. People are not just donating, they are getting something in return,” she said.
Jason Knibb, executive chef at Nine-Ten since 2003, said that when Mashar approached him in early April about the book, “there was so much uncertainty about the future [of restaurants] and we were all in a bit of shock. To receive this invitation provided us with a glimmer of hope.”
Knibb liked Mashar’s concept. “We were already thinking of ways we could assist our fellow restaurants and food banks locally,” he said. “To be given this opportunity to come together as an industry on a national level was inspiring, and we knew it was important to play a part.”
Gathering distinct recipes from 100 restaurants “worked out amazingly,” Mashar said. “My only directions [to the restaurants] were to make something that can be easily accessed, something that people can buy the ingredients from their neighborhood store.”
“United We Cook” presents two recipes from Nine-Ten: Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly and Hamachi Sashimi.
“We create our menus around each season, using whatever products we are able to source from the local farms and other artisans,” Knibb said. “Our menu changes quite often. But both of these dishes have been on our menu for many years. When we try to make changes to them, whether the presentation or ingredients used, our guests are not afraid to demand the original version. Both have really become Nine-Ten staples.
“Making them at home shouldn’t be too big a stretch for most.”
“United We Cook” also contains an introduction by Mashar, inspirational quotes and fun food facts. “In these dark times, I just wanted to put some of the positive back out,” she said.
The compilation took just under four weeks to go from concept to culling the recipes to publishing the book.
“I wanted to get it out as soon as possible and not drag out the process,” Mashar said. “It’s most relevant now, while most states are still closed. The sooner people purchase the book, the sooner I can distribute the funds to the restaurants.”
Knibb said he hopes “United We Cook” “will serve as a reminder to those purchasing the book how important independent restaurants are to the health of the national economy. As we now hear that restaurants can start to reopen safely and with new protocols, we really have no idea what the demand will be and how many of them will be able to stay afloat. [This is] a welcome reminder that there are people out there who care about independent restaurants and how important it is to keep them alive.”
“United We Cook” is priced at $30 and is available only as a digital download from unitedwecook.org.