On Brightland's Bookshelf

Welcome back to On Brightland’s Bookshelf. This month, we are featuring the founders of some of our favorite food startups, including Ugly Drinks, Ghia, Sanzo, and Omsom. As a reminder, this monthly series focuses on what interesting people we admire are reading right now. We could all use a reminder to pursue some screen-free time, and reading is one of our favorite analog activities.

Hugh Thomas

Hugh Thomas is the CEO and co-founder of Ugly Drinks, a flavored sparkling water with zero sweeteners, sugars or calories.

Eat A Peach: A Memoir by David Chang with Gabe Ulla

"I’ve also been a huge fan of Momofuku and loved the rage and creativity of David Chang’s brand, food and businesses. The business is a growth story and as a founder, I resonated with a lot of David’s experiences as he tries to improve as a person and leader."

This is Not a T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds

"An amazing book on the art of building community. I finished this book in a few days and plan to re-read. Despite running a beverage company, I always think there is more to learn from categories outside what we do, and streetwear is no different."

Bring The Noise by Rapheal Honigstein

"This details the story of the German Soccer Coach, Jurgen Klopp who currently coaches Liverpool and won the Premier League and European Cup with them over the last two seasons. I love sports books, and in particular love books about coaches. The way Jurgen got his team to bond and play with smiles on their faces, under extreme pressure, is something I’ve loved to watch."

Melanie Masarin

Melanie Masarin is the founder of Ghia, a beautiful non-alcoholic apéritif packed with only pure, natural extracts.

Good Drinks by Julia Bainbridge

"This book just came out this month, and it really sets a new standard for mixology in non-alcoholic drinks. I make a lot of Spritzes and still have already learned so many new techniques. The buckwheat champagne is a must."

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

"I found this signed copy of Esther Perel's book while I was moving and dove right back into it. She's a critically acclaimed psychologist and her analysis of relationships is especially relevant in quarantine."

Always Home by Fanny Singer

"I just finished Fanny's beautiful book of collected stories about her mother, Alice Waters. Their relationship together and their relationship to food reminds me so much of my grandmother and my childhood in France, I couldn't put it down."

Sandro Roco

Sandro Roco is CEO and founder of Drink Sanzo, a modern sparkling water company that celebrates traditional Asian flavors.

Mission In a Bottle by Seth Goldman & Barry Nalebuff

"For those of us who operate beverage companies, Mission In a Bottle has reached near biblical status because of its accessibility (it's written like a graphic novel) and detail (the authors dedicate a full spread toward laying out every excruciating cost in producing a bottle of Honest Tea). I first read this book during Sanzo's R&D days. But with about 18 months in the industry now under my belt, I find myself re-reading this book and internalizing lessons in a completely different way."

Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

"Ruth is one of the most influential voices in the food industry, and one of the many things I love in this book (in addition to her quippy, hilarious writing style) is her discussion about the elegance and precision of Asian cuisine, oftentimes missed by New Yorkers and Americans at-large because of unpretentious plating and humble dining environments. Garlic and Sapphires was written in 2005, and I've been amazed to see the throughline between what she wrote then and food culture today."

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

"I've been infatuated with reading this novel since its release because of its meandering and vivid imagery, yet accessible prose. I'm not typically a fiction reader, but I was wandering around a bookstore (pre-pandemic), picked it up, started reading and was hooked for 2 hours. I more recently purchased the book to give myself a change of pace in what has been such a tumultuous time for the world. And I've found such relief in -- for at least a moment in time -- escaping our current reality and going to a different world."

Vanessa Pham

Vanessa Pham is the co-founder of Omsom, a pantry shortcut brand with Vietnamese, Filipino, and Thai starter kits crafted by iconic chefs.

The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee

"The American education system’s coverage of Asian American history is nearly nonexistent / very much one-sided and this book is a start to getting informed!"

The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates Ph.D.)

"I’ve been turning to mindfulness to help overcome fear and scarcity in my work and leadership. Being both a young female founder and the daughter of refugees, it's very much needed."

The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

"I love exploring food as a reflection of history, narratives and culture. Michael W. Twitty takes his readers on a wonderfully rich and important journey through African American culinary history in the Old South in this book, and I can't recommend it enough."