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Meet Brownie Brown, a native of Hawaii and a specialist of hip and holistic cooking in Brooklyn, New York. Brownie likes to integrate tools for tranquility of island life with the excitement of New York City’s hustle. She does so in her own restaurant Shanti Shack, a total reflection of her lifestyle and approach to food: fresh, vegetable-based, and balanced, linking a healthy body with healthy mind.
Set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Shanti Shack comes from “Shanti is the sanskrit word for peace, and a shack is your starter house, your personal body house. The goal is to give you tools of tranquility through food fitness. We history peasant foods to keep you eating close to nature as nature intended. The dishes awaken your family lineage as each culture satiates and cultivates our beginnings. These are the key ingredients to offering people a chance to globally connect to themselves so they too can participate in this world in a harmonious manner.” Here this can happen over a bowl of soup when people slow down and catch their breath.
When we asked her about her interest in and approach to holistic cooking she replied, “We eat the energy that forms us. For this reason, we need to take the chaos out of food preparation. (At the Shanti Shack) we prepare simple home-style grub with witty flair to tempo the pace by seducing our customers to sit for a meditative moment while they engage with their nourishment to gain more consciousness about the way they are participating in life”. In addition to cooking, Brownie teaches yoga to tap into the digestive fire, and also restorative yoga with meditative systematic relaxation techniques to bring calm, peace and overall balance to mind and body.
Her involvement with the way we eat took her to share it and teach it in Manhattan’s private residences. As a private chef cooking holistic mainly vegetarian food at homes, Brownie has had a lot of clients from the Wall Street area. And she believes that vegetables have come a long way; “When I started in this industry 20 years ago the only thing vegetarian that you could get at a fancy New York restaurant was a version of primavera glazed with chicken stock and butter or sauce mornay. People were looking for alternative creations to update and combat the consequences of over indulgence.” As many were bored with home cooked meals, she first introduced sexy side dishes to intrigue them and then when they trusted her and they allowed her to make whatever she wanted.
Brownies menus are custom-created to suit people's needs. The ones who are interested in New York for private chefs are health enthusiasts, busy clients with young families and the uber rich. “Some want to feel better, some want to get better, some want to educate themselves so they can create dishes like this themselves and some just want to display the service of what a chef can do” she says. New York is a bustling city where citizens do not have to time to cook and clean. Thus Brownie claims that, “Life becomes compromised. Picking up really good food on the go or having someone make it for you, gives people a chance to quiet their to-do-list. It takes the time and energy towards food sourcing off the list to give them a chance to recollect”.
With regards to her background as a proud Hawaiian, Brownie was raised in the tropics and takes a scriptural nod to tribal techniques to all things they create. “The fresh floral fauna, salty sea, volcanic ash are deeply embedded in the senses and are a base to structuring each dish. Being surrounded by a very aromatic earth has taught me to use just plucked ingredients that still bead with moisture, smell like fresh dirt and are ready to become”, she says.