Juliet Sulejmani | September 26, 2016
The idea of having a salad as your main meal was unheard of, especially in the time when most peoples idea of a salad was iceberg lettuce and tomatoes with store bought dressing. That is, until in 2011, when Hetty McKinnon started ‘Arthur Street Kitchen.’
Hetty believed that there was room in the market for her plant based salads that would be healthy, filling and also comforting. Hetty began by delivering out postcards in her local area, and before she knew it her salads were selling out. Hetty says that the most rewarding part of her business was when she hand delivered the salads herself by bike, “The food almost came secondary to that connection that I was receiving from the person. It was so special, people valued it so much”.
Arthur Street Kitchen wasn’t just about just making and dropping off the salads, it was about making new friends, sharing stories, talking about food and connecting.
In 2013, Pan MacMillan published Hetty’s first Cook Book: Community, which has been wildly successful and has given people a new, wonderful way to think about and make delicous, hearty salads.
Since then, Hetty has spent some time in Europe and USA and now lives in Brooklyn with her family. Hetty’s travels have exposed her to a wide range of new influences, foods and techniques, which she has translated into new recipes, in her new CookBook “Neighbourhood“.
Neighbourhood not only includes more delicious salads, but also, a range of desserts that have been generously shared by Hetty’s friends.
To give you some more insight into the wonderful insight into the wonderful Hetty McKinnon, I had the pleasure of asking her some questions while she was here in Australia.
What is your favourite salad ingredient and why do you love it?
My fave salad ingredient to work with is probably broccoli. I love it’s accessibility. It is a very humble vegetable, without any fussiness.
But, with a little bit of love, you can turn a humble vegetable like broccoli into something quite spectacular. Chargrilling broccoli on the BBQ is a life altering experience. It’s changes your whole perception of the vegetable adding an unexpected depth of flavour.
Is there a brunch spot/café/restaurant in Brooklyn that you love and frequent often?
I really love a local joint called Court Street Grocers. It is right around the corner from my house, and is my go-to for strong black coffee, a delicious broccoli rabe reuben sandwich and the best grilled cheese. They are a great example of a neighbourhood spot that serves locals well, while being very good at their food focus (sandwiches!).
Do you love to read? If yes, can you please share a book that you love, or a book that you would give as a gift?
I do love to read. But it is just about finding the time. Reading is actually a real luxury to me so if I’m going to invest, it has to be quality. Over the last year, I’ve really read some wonderful works. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was just heartbreaking and absolutely compelling. Yes, it was sad, and depressing at times, but her writing simply blew me away, page after page. She has a way of telling a deeply sad story with hope. There was always some element of light amongst the darkness. I just loved it. I’m also a big fan of young adult fiction and I’m in absolute love with Jandy Nelson’s two books I’ll Give You The Sun and The Sky is Everywhere. There is something so nostalgic and hopeful about reading about late teens navigating through life and love.
What words do you live by (motto), or inspirational words that you can share that you to inspire others? (Mine is one by Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.)
The quote which I live by and which I espouse to my children relentlessly is,
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Spoken by Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
But lately, the quote that inspires me personally is
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” By Randy Komisar, The Monk & The Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur.
If you could have the day off today, what is the first thing you would do?
Probably go for a late breakfast at Two Hands Café in TriBeCa (where I will eat their superb brassica bowl,) and then go for a long walk through the gorgeous streets of lower manhattan. And probably end in the Meatpacking District at the Whitney Museum.
Do you have a side hobby? If you weren’t making salads what would you be doing?
I’m a pretty good knitter so I think I could make home crafts like beanies, socks and tea cosies and have an Etsy store! I also love photography and even though it has become a small part of my job, I just have so much joy when I have a camera in my hand.
What do you like to listen to while cooking? Do you have a favourite song? A podcast you could recommend?
I either listen to playlists which I’ve put together – these are pretty eclectic and can range from retro eighties music or very new indie/folksy stuff. But podcasts, particularly foodie ones, are probably my favourite – I listen to The Food Seen, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry, Monocle’s The Menu, and This American Life.