"Chef on the Rise"
INTERVIEW WITH LOS ANGELES TIMES – L.A. Food
"Let's jump right into things! Your name is Indigo Stone which is pretty cool. How'd your parents come up with that?"
"Thank you." (chuckles slightly) "People never believe me when I say it's the name my mom gave me before I even entered this world. They think it's some attempt to sound ethereal and I'm always amazed by that because I'm a chef and food is like one of my main priorities–not trying to sound like I'm woke or anything like that. I don't have any transcendent superpowers." (laughs) "Uhm...the origin, right. One of my mom's favorite movies was 'Mo Better Blues' which she was obsessed with when she was pregnant with me, this is the story she tells me anyway. One of the character's names was Indigo Downes and for some reason, the name 'Indigo' just stuck with her. Stone is literally just my last name." (chuckles some more) "My dad is Karl Stone, if you know who that is, so thanks to my parents for the cool ass identifier. I love it."
"We did some research before you came here today and stumbled across that last bit of information. Can you describe what life was like growing up with Karl as your dad?"
"(shrugging) Nothing like you're probably imagining right now. For the most part, it was me, my big brother, my mom and her family trying to raise us since my mom had us so young and my dad was in school. We'd see him every weekend or at least he would try to see us when he could. It's kind of hard to channel what 3-4 year old me was thinking at the time but from what I was told, I was a daddy's girl. Always excited to share something new that I learned or made with my cousin's easy bake oven that I was too young to be playing with. That all sort of started to shift once my mom found out he had another family. We didn't get to see him as much after that which I get. At the time, I didn't. Like I said, I was a daddy's girl so it was like having your superhero taken away from you–I was hurt. When I got older, he started coming around again and things started to get better. He'd shower us with gifts and all sorts of stuff and it didn't really impress my mother's side of the family but I was just happy he was around again...that was until I finally learned about the half-siblings I had. Teenage Indigo was selfish and unforgiving. I got to a space where I didn't really care about the material shit anymore because I felt betrayed, like 'How could you do that to my mom? How could you do that to me?' I started distancing myself from everyone and thought backpacking across Africa and then Europe would help me cope somehow and it did. Whatever I went out there looking for, I found." (her brows furrow as she tilts her head to one side) "In hindsight, that experience got me to where I am today. I would've gone to culinary school by any means but making that decision to leave is what got me to enroll in one of the best schools for cooking, Le Cordon Bleu in Madrid, Spain."
What was a Young Indigo like? How did she get to be an international chef?"
"Woah, International Chef?" (laughs, shaking her head) "When you put it like that, I almost sound famous. I consider myself an 'eclectic' style chef more than International. There are some countries and even cities I have yet to cross off my list of borrowed recipes. Young me was a pretty chill tyke. I was care-free, befriended all the kids in the neighborhood, always up to something and loved to eat, oh my God. There's this picture of me at my mom's house with me stuffing my face with her sweet potato pie and I was chunky as hell. Not 'baby fat' chunky either. My aunt had a restaurant in Paineshart that's not around anymore but anyone from Ashwhick has probably heard of it; 'Sweet Cynthia's Cafe'. She used to let me clean up and wait tables there and it became one of my first jobs. Between her and my grandma, I would say 80% of what I know is from them. They used to kick everyone out the kitchen and I'd sneak back in and watch until they finally let me have my hand at it. I started to make things on my own and of course let everyone around me be the test subjects. My mom would tell my brother to be nice to me even if it sucked. It got to a point where for Thanksgiving, I wasn't allowed in there if my grades were trash which was hard because I really didn't like studying and I was terrible at math. That helped shape my discipline though."
"So, from Ashwick Valley to Madrid, Spain; what was the journey like?"
"Scary at first but most things that define you in life are. I didn't go alone so there's that. One of my friends from Lincoln High and another that I grew up with in my neighborhood decided after high school, we wanted to take a year off rather than hop right into more coursework. Of course, I was all for it. That care-free girl was still in me, looking for an adventure at every turn. When I told my parents, they both looked at me like I had 8 heads before offering to help me so I didn't wind up lost or dead. We packed our shit up that summer and headed out to Nigeria first. We really didn't even plan where we'd go after that, kind of just went whichever way the wind blew. We soon realized that wasn't the best idea and I started planning everything from where we'd stay to how we'd get there and what food to try each stop, of course. It was so much fun, man. I encourage everyone to try sightseeing the way we did. Took a couple of months but it was worth it. We went into it as three friends but along the way, things started to change." (tries to contain her smile, biting her lower lip)
"Would you like to elaborate on that more?"
"Yeah, sure. I think I have to because that was a little vague. So we decided to spend most of our money on the experience of it all; drinks, food, shows, weed, or whatever else. Which meant our living arrangements weren't that great. We'd squeeze into a twin if we had to. I figured it was only a couple of hours anyway, who cares? One night, we're at this festival in Lisbon and everyone's having a good time, you know? My friend, that I told you I grew up with? So long story short, she kisses me and naturally we start making out in the middle of this event. I know, right? Anything is possible in Lisbon. I've always remembered myself being attracted to girls dating back to middle school? I was just like, 'he's cute, so is she' kind of thing. When I was maybe 14-15, I told my mom that I thought I really liked girls and that same year, I introduced everyone to my first girlfriend and it was easy to write it off as a phase but by girlfriend number 2, I wouldn't say it was accepted but it just wasn't a surprise anymore. I don't think my mom was that happy about it but I knew she wouldn't freak out like the moms in the coming out stories I've heard; we were closer than that. We talked about it and she loves me so other than that, she doesn't care–her words, not mine. I'm still very much attracted to men but I thought to make it a point that my most impactful relationships were with women. Now, where was I? Oh, right. Me and my friend decided we're going to stay in Europe a little while longer, our last stop being Madrid. We found a place there and lived together for like half a year. I started working in a restaurant so I wasn't reliant on anyone else for support. I had moved in with my best friend slash girlfriend at the time and I wasn't in the happiest place mentally which says a lot because I'm usually in good spirits. Going home just didn't feel like an option. A commercial about some local culinary program is what inspired me to apply at La Cordon Bleu. I threw myself into it and was finished with my two-year program at 22. I graduated as a classically trained chef...and single." (laughing) "She felt like her life was back here in Ashwhick and as a friend, I wasn't going to stop her so she left me alone in Europe. I had finally found my calling so I wasn't going anywhere. If I didn't start catering events, I would be destitute and we wouldn't be talking today. We haven’t really been able to come back from that relationship but everything happens for a reason, right?"
"So catering became your passion?"
"No...I mean kinda. It became a way for me to do what I love and get paid but I didn't like working under someone. It was an apprenticeship which meant I was being bossed around and dealing with an energy that disrupted my spirit day in and day out so I quit. By that time, I had already started piecing together my cookbook taking different recipes I had come across and putting my own spin on it. You all know it now as "Bounty and Full." Yeah, I started putting that together that long ago. Finishing culinary school kind of recentered me, if that makes sense. I had a sense of purpose and fulfillment that I thought I was going to get just by traveling but no, that wasn't it. After I quit, I felt like I had accomplished enough to come back home and share what I had learned. One of my friends built me a website just off the strength of loving my presentation. He said it was so fun and creative that he didn't want to eat what I would make." (smiles, rolling her eyes playfully) "I started getting requests for private dinners and events in Ashwhick, then LA. Eventually, Bountyandfull.com even made its way to Australia where I've had the opportunity to cater. I love when people give me free range to make what I want and those are usually my happier clients. Being a one-person team is almost unheard of but I like to personally touch every dish. It's sort of restricting because I can't really cook for large events but it gives me room to continue traveling, honing in on my skills, and being selective with who I share with."
"We would agree. The meal you prepared for us here today is pretty damn good! What's next for Indigo Stone?"
"I really don't know. Maybe a restaurant of my own? Continue the family legacy or something. I like to just live in the present and let things come to me. Right now, I guess you'd consider me a traveling chef. People are still getting acquainted with my cookbook and it's been out for almost a year now. Since being back home, me and my dad have been mending our relationship, so that's really good. I like the way things are going right now."
"That's all the questions we have for you today. I think we learned a lot about this young chef on the rise. Look out for Indigo, everyone. You can also purchase her book at Bountyandfull.com"
"Thanks for having me, guys. This was fun."