Sure, San Francisco has birthed lots of foodie stars, but the one we're most excited about these days is Laura Miller of Sidesaddle Kitchen. The self-proclaimed "raw, vegan, not gross" chef is currently taking the YouTube channel Tastemade by storm. (We're talking hundreds of thousands of views, people! And, her Instagram stream ain't too shabby, either.)
Of course, we can pat ourselves on the back for seeing this coming in early 2012, when we first asked the cutie to dish recipes exclusively for R29 readers. A year and a half later and we're only more smitten with the rising star, which made us all the more hyped to spend the day with her, hopping around her four favorite spots in S.F. And, let's just say they might surprise you... Check them all out right here, and get to know this charismatic stunner before she completely blows up.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz
Tell us about Sidesaddle Kitchen. What was your inspiration behind launching it?
"I launched Sidesaddle in 2008, around the same time that the Underground Market
was taking off in San Francisco. It offered me a chance to test my food out with thousands of people every month, which ended up being a really valuable market-research tool!"
Laura, in a vintage frock and thrifted shoes, outside Inner Richmond gem, Kamei.
How would you describe your style both in and outside of the kitchen?
"In the kitchen, lots of orthopedic shoes and sweatpants. Outside of the kitchen, lots of orthopedic shoes and dresses."
Who knew orthopedic shoes could look so darling!
You've brought us here to one of your favorite spots, Kamei. How did you discover it, and what do you love about it?
"I found Kamei when I was just starting Sidesaddle and needed a ton of kitchen stuff, but had no money. I love that it’s affordable and no-nonsense. If I need anything for my kitchen, I always try Kamei first. I’ve gotten everything from mandolins to bento boxes, and cute bowls for photo shoots."
We're a bit bowled over by the offerings, as well!
And, we're getting a little sidetracked by your beauty! What are your go-to hair and makeup products?
"I am one of those people who can’t wear lipstick without getting it all over my teeth, face, clothing, and dog, so I have to use a lip stain. My favorite is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar
. My hair routine is basically just a lot of deep conditioning and a lot of not brushing (much to my mother’s dismay!)."
The definition of a natural beauty.
Second stop: Rainbow Grocery! Why do you love this place?
's bulk section could make a grown man cry. Well, a grown hippie at least."
Laura, in a top from Painted Bird, Madewell jeans, and thrifted boots, and her pooch hit up the cult-favorite grocer.
What have been some treasures you've scored here?
"The best treasures are definitely the people you meet while you’re climbing over each other to get to the bulk bins. I’ve made a lot of friends."
What is your background with raw and vegan food?
"I started throwing raw dinner parties for my meat-loving friends just to test out recipes, and the response was amazing. At the time, I was working as a line cook and baker in a traditional restaurant, so just as a side gig, I started bringing raw cookies to a tiny little co-op where I was living in Nevada and they were selling out the day that I was bringing them. I wanted to get some formal training on my resume, so I tried doing a raw-food apprenticeship, but the place I went just felt way too culty for me, so I ended up leaving after a week! I thought my love affair with raw vegan food was over forever. A couple years later, I started selling at ForageSF’s Underground Market, which allowed me to test my raw desserts with thousands of people every month."
Those boots were made for walkin'.
How did your settle on you hilarious tagline, "Raw, Vegan, Not Gross"?
"I basically just wanted to make fun of myself, and to let people know that I’m aware that raw food has a bad reputation. A lot of people think of it as a militant, culty, holier-than-thou movement, and I really don’t think that’s what raw food is all about. It’s actually just a really great way to focus on eating more plants."
And, really, who can argue with eating more plants?
Another grocery store made your top-spots list. How did you find this venue on 22nd and Irving?
"I actually found this store when I was searching for a cheap place to buy boxes of coconuts. Its prices are amazing, and every time I go I seem to find a new fruit I’ve never seen before."
Laura's go-to market in the Sunset, which is also her fave S.F. hood.
When did you start your work with Tastemade?
"I started making recipe videos with Tastemade
last spring, and was so nervous about being on camera that my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering."
Laura hunts for veggies in Madewell jeans, a top from T.J. Maxx, and thrifted boots.
What's been the best thing about the huge response from Tastemade viewers?
"I love when people write to tell me that they made my recipe for their meat-loving husbands or kids and that they loved it."
Can't you just smell the freshness?
Do you have any food-world icons?
"I love Erin McKenna of Babycakes
— a vegan, gluten-free bakery based out of NYC. She’s got killer style, serious hustle, and makes music videos
of frosting cupcakes to the tune of 'When I Dip You Dip.'"
An icon-in-the-making does some apple-pickin'.
Back on the fashion tip: What's your philosophy when it comes to accessorizing?
"I like to wear obnoxiously bright lipstick. Aside from that, I don’t like to wear anything that I can potentially take off and lose." Where do you like to shop for clothing?
"I take it to T.J. Maxx
and I also sift through the Crossroads'
All black er'ything.
Where did you grow up and how long have you been living in San Francisco/Bay Area?
"I grew up about an hour northeast of San Francisco on a little 20-acre parcel of land with lots of plants and animals. My family had a big garden, an orchard, and a greenhouse that was always overflowing with plants. I moved around a bit, but came back to the Bay Area about six years ago."
Mother Nature in all her glory.
What is your favorite San Francisco neighborhood?
"I feel very rooted in the Sunset district. My grandparents lived in the same house in the Sunset for 62 years, and it’s where my mom was raised. I go out to the ocean almost every day with my dog, which keeps me from getting a little too stir-crazy living in the city."
Hello, pretty lady!
Scrap is another haunt you like to frequent. How did you discover it, and what do you love about it?
"I used to refurbish furniture, so I spent a lot of time at places like Building REsources
going through discarded building materials and talking to nice old men. One of them tipped me off to Scrap
and I’ve been obsessed ever since. It's my go-to when I need creative inspiration. I walk in and have 20 new projects in my mind before I get down the first aisle."
Laura walks the plank at Scrap in a Free People dress and slip, and thrifted boots.
What have been some treasures you've scored here?
"I found these beautiful boxes a couple years ago, and I loved them so much that I went back to buy them all out (about 80 of them!) so that I could use them for Sidesaddle deliveries. They were way too fancy for the job but I just loved them so much — and they were so cheap!"
We dare you to find a prettier junk yard.
What's up next for you?
"I actually have no idea, but that’s what makes this exciting and terrifying!"
Whatever it is, you bet we'll be following along right behind her.