Kathryn Storm leads the Vegan Hacker, a monthly event where people recreate classic recipes as vegan-friendly dishes at Mission District creative center Noisebridge. Both Storm and Vegan Hacker got their start last year, providing a collaborative space for culinary creators to experiment and run wild.
oSF: How did the vegan hacker come about?
Kathryn Storm: I had moved to San Francisco last year and I also decided I wanted to be vegan. I was getting to know the city. A friend of mine was going to an event at NoiseBridge and was telling me about it. I was interested in it for different reasons. I discovered they had a whole food hacking sect of the space and I thought that was really cool. A little bit before that I had been cooking with my friend, who is also a vegan, and we would make stuff that I had loved to eat before I was vegan, so I put the two together and… proposed this idea of kind of sharing the experience with the community at NoiseBridge.
oSF: Who attends?
KS: I’m pretty sure most people are vegan because we end up talking about the lifestyle a bit. Some people are vegetarian. It can be anywhere from eight to as many as 15 people. I don’t necessarily promote it as well as I should. I think that people are starting to catch on that it exists. I get to see new people and there are people I’ve seen a few times now.
oSF: What is teaching like?
KS: I kind of go about it that I’m not teaching anything, I’m just facilitating the experimentation. I’m experimenting as much as everyone else. It’s fun when people know what they’re doing and can share that, but it’s also fun when people are maybe new to cooking or new to the food. That’s part of the hacking. When I put up the recipe we’re doing for a particular month, I kind of let people decide how they want to experiment. It’s cool to learn what other substitutions people are using. I’ve actually been quite surprised.
oSF: Are new recipes usually successful?
KS: It is experimentation, so there are some funny outcomes of food that we’ve made. The last recipe we did for July, we did steamed buns. Those turned out really well. I think everyone really enjoyed that. The previous one, corn dogs, turned out a little strange. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re all used to what corn dogs are supposed to look like.
oSF: How does the concept fit with San Francisco?
KS: I think this is another way to experiment with food and I think it fits well into San Francisco as well. I feel people here are a little more open to that kind of lifestyle. Any community that is open to both experimentation and curiosity in general. It’s more about experimenting with good food than pushing any sort of belief system. People that have come have mentioned, “Oh I’m not a vegetarian, can I still come?” And I say of course. It’s not an exclusive thing based on what you eat. It’s a love of food and based on my lifestyle.