An exciting new pop-up series is kicking into high gear at Capitol Hill’s Osteria La Spiga. In February, head chef and co-owner Sabrina Tinsley launched the Future of Diversity Guest Chef Program, which invites local BIPOC chefs to cook at the restaurant and showcase their dishes for three-course takeout meals. After a successful first couple of months, the program is spreading the word about its upcoming lineup for the spring and summer, and has hopes to expand beyond.
As part of the series, a new guest chef takes over the kitchen at La Spiga on a certain day each month to prepare the pop-up dinners, and Tinsley then conducts a live Zoom interview to learn more about each guest. The program started with Mahogany Williams of the Pickled Chef in February and the team of Natalie Evans and her partner Carlington Noble in March. This week, caterer Monica Wachira of Monique’s Hot Kitchen will highlight Kenyan cuisine: preorders must be placed by 4 p.m. April 22, and the Zoom interview goes live April 23.
The slate of upcoming pop-ups feature plenty of new talents to watch in the Seattle area culinary scene. In May, the Filipino-born and future “Memoirs of a Gay Chef” cookbook series author Wil Yee will make an appearance; forager and fermenting specialist Shaili Parekh (who cooks at a nonprofit and plans to start a cafe called Earth and Spice) joins in June; and Jalissa Horton of Jalissa Culinary Co. — a Tukwila-based catering operation — will make some Southern comfort dishes inspired by the African Diaspora in July.
Tinsley and her husband, La Spiga co-owner Pietro Borghesi, purchase all the ingredients, provide equipment access, and set up online ordering, and the guest chefs receive 20 percent proceeds for meals sold, plus tips. The chefs also make some additional cash from “add-on” sales of their own branded products, such as beverages, jams, baking mixes, and spice blends. Thus far, the response from attendees over Zoom have been positive, according to the restaurant, and sales have been strong, so Tinsley would ideally like to run the program through at least the end of 2021.
“I’ve always had a passion for different cultures, and I love meeting new chefs — learning about what they are doing in the community and seeing how they are showcasing their delicious foods,” says Tinsley. “This program is one of the ways I am choosing to connect with our BIPOC community, bringing us closer together, and helping chefs in the beginning stages of their concepts gain additional exposure.”