Executive chef Erika Bostick at The Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)
While The Coronet’s Erika Bostick originally went to school for animation, she spent a considerable amount of time reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows.
Beginning her culinary career at Rincon Market before joining the line at California Pizza Kitchen, she went on to work in the kitchens of both Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink and Sparkroot Coffee Bar + Fare (now Caffe Luce).
Sparkroot regular Sally Kane was mesmerized with Bostick’s cooking and hired her as the executive chef for her restaurant The Coronet in 2014.
1) What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
I was seven years old spending the summer with family in Los Angeles, and my cousin’s husband had sushi rolls and sashimi delivered to the house for our late breakfast. I’d never had sushi before and the vibrant colors, fresh crunchy vegetables offset by vinegary rice and the salty umami of nori just kind of blew my tiny mind. I also enjoyed the ritualistic nature of the meal, preparing the chopsticks, pouring soy into a small dish, etcetera. I always ate very well at home and my mom is a great cook but sushi was a bit too exotic for my Mexican parents that hailed from rural communities. That sushi meal was such a departure from what I knew and enjoyed everyday as a kid, it made a big impression.
2) What are you eating these days?
I swear this is not a shameless plug, but I’ve been eating so many bagels from aka Deli & Bakeshop. As I’m writing this I’m enjoying an open-faced egg and cheese sandwich on a wheat bagel pan toasted in unsalted butter. Divine.
3) What was the first dish you remember cooking?
Breakfast egg dishes for the whole family on Sunday mornings are still some of my most cherished childhood memories as well as my jump-off point to preparing meals on my own. I started when I was able to reach the stove safely. I chopped my own vegetables, trying my hand at knife techniques I learned on PBS cooking shows.
Chia and Pink Dragonfruit Bowl at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)
4) What concept, ingredient, or food trend are you experimenting with these days?
Meat alternatives have been on my mind a lot lately, such as the plant-based protein burgers and “beef” crumbles slowly hitting the grocery stores all around town. I love meat, but it’s fantastic to have options that taste really good and are versatile.
5) Who would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Margarita Carrillo Arronte, who wrote the beautiful and substantial Mexico: The Cookbook is at the top of my list to cook with and then eat the fruits of our labors. Her knowledge of Mexican cuisine and the accessible way in which she writes is admirable.
6) What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
For sheer variety and consistent excellence, L.A. is my jam. From the strip mall Ethiopian place to the hipster mimosa brunch spots, you can have it all in abundance and it’s probably gonna be great. I was there recently and enjoyed activated charcoal soft serve ice cream in a black waffle cone, so there’s also that — the places making food you’d never heard of or even knew existed as a restaurant/food concept.
7) Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Polishing off a Fat Bastard burger at Lindy’s on 4th and then having the gall to cross the street to eat a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.
8) Which three Tucson restaurants do you frequent the most, aside from your own?
Shish Kebab House, Za’atar, and Tacos Apson.
9) With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
A mesquite-grilled porterhouse cooked rare, a bunch of char-grilled spring onions on the side with sea salt, a stack of my mom’s flour tortillas, and a big bowl of her pinto beans in their broth with a fat pinch of Mexican oregano, chopped white onion, and queso fresco on top. And a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and shots of tequila reposado.
Try Erika Bostick’s creations for yourself at The Coronet, located at 402 E 9th St on the ground floor of the historic Coronado Hotel by the Fourth Avenue underpass.