Market Chef : Julie Hasson
Julie Hasson’s life in food was meant to be. As we learned when we checked in with her last year, she’s had a rather varied path, but it’s always been food-focused. From a super-successful French-inspired wholesale baking business in LA, to a stopover in Boise to clear out the smog and now, to a much-beloved vegan food cart here in Portland, Hasson clearly has a way with food.
Native Bowl, the vegan cart she runs with her husband over in the pod on Mississippi & Skidmore, is still alive and well – it was even featured recently on the Cooking Channel! But that’s not all that keeps Hasson busy lately. She’s been working on not one, but two (!) cookbooks, as well as a bi-monthly ‘Healthy Kitchen’ segment on Good Day Oregon (take a peak here!). At the time of her demo last year she’d just come out with “Vegan Diner”, a book that’s just what it sounds like — healthy alternatives to classic diner foods like burgers and mac and cheese. Noticing a theme here? Comfort foods are apparently her comfort zones, because those cookbooks she’s working on are : a vegan pizza cookbook and a vegan casserole book. “Comfort food makes you think of family and cooking for other people, so for me it starts with that. I think people often think that healthy food and comfort food can’t be synonymous – I want to show that not only can it be healthy but it can be vegan, too. First and foremost it’s the food that I love to cook. My brain is just always swirling about food – my husband is always saying ‘don’t you think about anything but food’ and the truth is no, I really don’t!”
To talk to her, you’d never know Hasson was such a super-busy person. She’s calm and quick to laugh, someone who is so obviously fueled by a real love of her life and work. But surely staying inspired is a challenge, sometimes? What keeps her so excited? Just Portland, she says. ” Going to the farmers market and thinking about what I might make. I get really, really excited and start diving all over the place. Or I might go to a restaurant and eat something and it’ll trigger all these ideas. So many chefs in town inspire me; I love seeing what everyone is doing. There is just so much happening here.”
As for this Sunday, when we spoke earlier this week, Hasson wasn’t quite sure what she’d be making yet. However, she did know it would involve blackberries, red wine, ice cream (vegan of course) and some sort of crumb topping. I assured her that was all we needed to know – holy cow, could it sound any tastier? So come on by & see what she comes up with – rest assured she’s on it, and it will be both heathly and super delicious! See you at the market!