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PostHeaderIcon Food Writer Wants to Become the iTunes of Recipes

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Nadine Argueza grew up on a farm in the Philippines. Amazing recipes full of fresh local ingredients filled her childhood. “Any time our family got together there was always great food,” she remembers fondly. So it was only natural that a meandering path away from the Philippines and through college and a new life in the Bay Area sent her, ultimately, back home—into the realm of food, love, and the intersection of the two.

Nadine entered UC Berkeley as a nutritional sciences major. New to Berkeley, she wanted to learn more about her community and joined UC Berkeley’s Bonner Program, which connects activist-minded college students with local nonprofits in need of assistance. “I wanted to know why parts of Berkeley and Oakland were more dangerous to go to—why the inequality,” she says.

As a soft spoken but curious and empathy-driven Bonner Leader, Nadine recruited volunteers and helped with outreach for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, a nonprofit that helps Alameda County residents overcome homelessness and rebuild their lives. She saw how food was part of that inequality—poor neighborhoods with a liquor store on every corner and fresh produce nowhere to be found, or in limited quantities at exorbitant prices.

 

As she interacted with fellow UC Berkeley students, faculty, and community members from around the world, her interest in diversity blossomed. “I veered off my original path into cultural anthropology,” she says. The course study required a lot of interviews. She enjoyed connecting personally with people and eagerly absorbed their stories. Gradually, she found that while studying the systemic causes of inequity was interesting, but unsatisfying. “I was more interested in fighting inequity through tangible goals that could be achieved in small steps.”

She wasn't quite sure what those steps would look like, but a campus Iron Chef competition gave her a clue. “I won first prize,” she smiles. “And I thought, I may have something here.” She started a food blog, gave cooking classes to friends, and began catering friends’ events. Her blog started getting readers and comments from around the world. Realizing she had a growing audience, she wanted to see if she could make a d

“What excited me most,” she says, “was not the numbers of people who were reading it, but how engaged they were.”eeper impact.

Nadine Cooks is the first in what she plans as a series of self-published kindle cookbooks. Released just before Valentine’s Day, it is full of romantic recipes. Part of the proceeds will be donated to typhoon relief in the Philippines. Her second, currently being written, will be a more comprehensive cookbook, with food stories, memories, and recipes from people in different fields—with a focus on young entrepreneurs. Part of the proceeds will be donated to charities fighting poverty.

“I want to become is the iTunes of cookbooks,” she proclaims. Her website offers some free recipes and some for sale, and uses the Tom’s of Maine model of donating 50 percent of what she raises to charity.

To get there, she’s focused on growing her business—increasing her participation in local food journalism, beefing up her catering service, and bringing her cooking classes to a wider audience. She recently teamed up with CHAA (Community Health for Asian Americans) to offer free cooking classes on-site, and hopes to apply for grants.

“I realized that the best way I could make significant change was to make personal connections,” she smiles.

Connect with Nadine at facebook.com/nadinecooks -- SF

Sonja Fitz works as the development director for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency in Berkeley. This is her second story for Allnewsnoblues.com.

Last Updated (Monday, 10 March 2014 07:05)

 

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