A slow Saturday morning with jewelry designer and entrepreneur Ali Heiss—accompanied with greek yogurt, tomato toast, and cuddles with her adorable dog Sumo—might be our very definition of living in a golden state. Read more about Ali's cooking journey, from instant ramen to reconnecting with her heritage through spicy and adventurous dishes.
Q&A With Ali
Brightland: How do you have fun in the kitchen?
Ali: I try not to overthink things and keep it very basic and simple, because it’s the action of cooking that I love more than eating at times! I love building with my hands, so cooking is very similar to jewelry designing for me. Being hands on is very therapeutic and immersive because I become hyper-focused on what I’m doing, and nothing is more enjoyable to me than that.
Brightland: What do you cook for yourself when nobody’s looking?
Ali: It’s really hard to choose, but I either go the spicy Szechuan route, or the healthy comfort soup route. It’s one of two dishes, Szechuan double pepper chicken, or Korean ginseng Samgyetang. Growing up in an adopted family, I wasn’t as adventurous with trying new cuisines before 18. In the past decade, I have cultivated a deep appreciation for eastern foods as a way to connect to my background and heritage.
Brightland: What does living in a golden state mean to you? How do you live in a golden state in your kitchen?
Ali: Golden state to me means being next to the freshest ingredients. There is no excuse to not eat well, especially in LA! It also means getting to immerse myself in all types of cuisines, and connect to different cultures through food.
Brightland: What 3 words would you use to describe your cooking?
Ali: Comfort, healthy, spicy.
Brightland: What is your night-time/wind-down routine?
Ali: I eat quite late, usually around 10pm (horrible habit, but I don’t really see it changing after 10 years!) This means we start cooking around 8:30, eat around 10, and clean up by 11. Having the luxury of cooking at home and cleaning the kitchen is really calming for me.
"In the past decade, I have cultivated a deep appreciation for eastern foods as a way to connect to my background and heritage."
Brightland: What advice do you have for the aspiring-but-overwhelmed home chef?
Ali: Learn the basics, and everything is easy peasy after that. Learning something as simple as chopping garlic, sautéing it, and adding vegetables makes cooking super easy, which is saying a lot - I used to live off of instant ramen in my early 20s! At the end of the day, learning to cook is a skill you’re not born with, it’s practice. Ray and I love to cook together. We cook almost every day of the week, we consider it a date night! He is more skilled in the kitchen, so I’m the sous chef and master eater.