Interview: Makini Howell, Plum Bistro, Plum Chopped, Sugar Plum.
Cloud Room Member since 2015
CR: Makini, we are so excited to be sitting down with you-- a pioneer of veganism in Seattle! What were your inspirations to open Plum Bistro?
MH: I felt there needed to be a space for vegans that gave us the same upscale dining experience for all of our life moments that everyone else has; A place for celebrations and marriage proposals, graduations and all of life's special moments— A happy place where we could all brake (vegan) bread together
CR: There are so many options for a first- timer to your restaurant! What do you deem the “must-try” dish on the Plum menu?
MH: The mac and yease if you are a mac and cheese lover, its filled with plant based umami!
CR: Where is your favorite getaway spot to treat yourself to a special meal?
MH: My mother's house
CR:Makini, as a veteran to the lifestyle, what is your best gourmet quick tip for an aspiring vegan?
MH: Take it easy with yourself, I am a lifer if you are coming from eating everything to veganism it takes time to transition.
CR: Are there any unique sweet treat flavors that we get to look forward to at Sugar Plum?
MH: ALL of the soft serve ice cream!
CR: Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with veganism? Why do you personally recommend a vegan diet and what motivates you to follow it?
MH: Well I was basically born like this so it’s easy for me. It’s sort of like having a 20 year head start on everyone joining the plant based movement, so I don’t think there was ever another option for me. My body is conditioned to veganism. The reason I stay is it’s a part of who I am a part of my identity I guess, and I am super inspired by how many folks are joining the ranks of veganism these days.
CR: Your upbeat work ethic and contagious laugh are such a pleasure to experience day to day! What is your favorite part about working from The Cloud Room? Can you tell us about any partnerships that have come about because of being in the space?
MH: Thank you, it is a truly a pleasure to work here. I like how the cloud room has reimagined a productive work space. The cloud room concept allows one to work day or night, we can bring our pups and it encourages getting to know one another, I personally have made some very successful partnership with Wildern design company since I have been here, they now do all of my company branding, I think their touch has greatly helped in the public facing perception of what veganism is. We are also doing a 3 month inspired dinner series with KUOW and the Cloud room.
CR: Your dog, Copper, is another familiar face around the space. How do you two like to spend your free time together?
MH: Oh when he is not here with me, my nephew is dragging him around by the collar at the lake, with us or Vashon Island or whatever adventure we decide to go on.
CR: Thank you for your contribution to our Membership Mixtape! We have to ask, currently, what is the song you just can’t get enough of?
MH: Well since I work in the kitchen a lot we listen to a LOT of Latinx raggaeton so even though I am learning spanish I have no idea what the words are but the beats sure are good!
CR: What are you currently reading? Any favorites that you would suggest to someone trying to kick off the new year with a book in hand?
MH: Michelle Obama's Becoming!
CR:Your career has taken you through some impressive ventures, Makini. What are a few that you are particularly proud of accomplishing, a highlight reel if you will?
MH: Definitely touring with stevie wonder as his personal chef is at the top of the list, I learned and grew as a person SO much from that experience. I have cooked in the james beard house I have catered a luncheon for Google's Global food partners team, I was selected as one of the most creative chefs in the world my Keran Paige Author of the Award winning flavor bible, I was invited on the steve harvey and queen latifah shows I met Michelle Obama, and Oprah, I have just had amazing opportunities through simply working to meet very inspiring people.
CR: It is very exciting that veganism is gaining so much traction so quickly! What do you see on the horizon for the Plum empire?
MH: Nothing that I can talk about yet hehe :o)