Aura Mae cuts hair. She also cooks. When combined, she’s a double threat known as The Kitchen Beautician. As she jokes, “I can make over you AND your recipe!”
The owner of Tacoma’s Azarra Salon was invited to compete last month against Hudson Slater, executive chef of Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge and the creator of some intensely complicated Northwest fare. Given a basket of mystery ingredients that held kumquats, trout and the unlikely ingredient of an ice cream cone, the two engaged in a friendly smackdown. Aura Mae won.
She decided she wanted to conquer the Bite of Seattle this weekend, too. She entered the festival’s cooking demonstration video competition – and was chosen to demo this weekend. You can see her cook live at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Fisher Pavilion. Read more about this weekend’s Bite of Seattle here.
I lobbed Aura Mae a few questions via email about her cooking prowess at the Taste and upcoming Bite demo. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: Tell readers about the cooking throwdown at the Taste. How did you beat the awesomeness of Hudson Slater? Tell readers all your secrets.
A: When the mystery ingredients were revealed, I couldn’t have been happier. I grew up fishing for trout and I use the word kumquat as an endearment. The only wrench was the ice cream cone, but I decided just to treat it as something sweet and crunchy.
Hudson is an awesome chef and I was a little intimidated to be up against someone who worked under Gordon Naccarato at Pacific Grill, but I just focused on my own work (in 30 minutes there wasn’t much time to look and see what he was doing, anyway!)
I barely got the food on the plate as the clock counted down. I am so lucky that the fish (which was still cooking with six seconds remaining!) didn’t slide off the plate as I literally tossed it on.
Q: Can you tell readers – or share the recipe – for what you cooked at The Taste?
Q: Whatchya cooking at the Bite? Why did you pick that dish?
A: The criteria for the Bite Of Seattle video recipe submission was that it be Seattle focused. I already had a video of my interpretation of a family salmon recipe, so I sent it off and was selected to appear this Sunday at 5PM. I will be on the roof of the Fisher Pavilion demoing the recipe in the video. I have produced a few videos to use as audition pieces for Food Network Star. My ultimate goal is to get The Kitchen Beautician her own TV show. The win at Taste of Tacoma and the showcase at Bite of Seattle should help! If you want to follow the adventures of The Kitchen Beautician, you can do so on Facebook.
Q: Have you had a chance to check out the restaurants that will be serving at this weekend’s Bite? If so, at which restaurants will you stop and sample?
A: It’s going to be a warm day, so I am looking for cool, refreshing dishes:
Elk Salad Supreme from Trophy Spice
Pineapple Shrimp Papaya Salad from Pho Cyclo Cafe
Bowl of Berries from Biringer Farms