Behind the Stove
10 Dishes with Chef Kim Alter
The chef and owner of San Francisco’s acclaimed Nightbird and the Linden Room tackles our speed round of questions.
After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Dumplings.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “No, I don’t think so.”
All-time favorite spice. “Tough question, I would say vadouvan, which we make in-house at Nightbird.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “I don’t listen to music when I cook. But before my cooks get in, I sometimes have my earphones in and I will listen to a podcast or loud punk music.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “As a young child no, but around junior high school I started integrating food into all the projects that I was assigned.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “This changes monthly. I love the Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, that is definitely my go to and Astrance, is normally one that is always in my kitchen.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Yes, very much, but I tend to always want casual, cozy and ethnic places.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “I guess I would be interested in cooking with Auguste Escoffier just to see all the French basics and technique that he documented.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Honestly, not a big fan. I have been on cooking shows and when I was younger I think I watched Yan Can Cook or the Galloping Gourmet.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My knives.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.