Coast Monthly sits down with local cooks and food lovers for a chat.
Ouida Cook, owner and operator of Soul2Soul Cafe, 3104 Market St. in Galveston, was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., receiving a degree in public policy, administration and accounting.
Cook and her husband moved to Texas in 2006, and she began working at a nonprofit at which her boss was Alan Greenspan. The job went south with Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008. She adapted by turning to her love of cooking, which she had been doing since she was a child.
Cook began with catering gigs, and eventually opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant, where she serves her soul food classics Monday through Friday. On weekends, she focuses on catering.
She developed her love of cooking by spending her youthful summers at her aunt’s house in Mississippi, helping with meals. She always loved cooking, but never thought she would do it professionally, she said. She cooks without recipes and by feel — and with “a lot of love.”
The intimacy of the Galveston community is its biggest selling point compared to larger cities, such as St. Louis, she said.
Q: Who was your inspiration, mentor or teacher that helped you become the cook you are?
A: My elders, my granny, mother, aunt and dad. I was the first granddaughter, so I had everything thrown at me.
Q: What’s your first food-related memory?
A: Making homemade chocolate chip cookies at my aunt’s house and singing along to The Supremes. I can still smell those cookies to this day.
Q: Do you have a pet peeve about this business?
A: Wow, a few but what I really hate is paying taxes. I know you have to, but I hate it.
Q: Who would be your dream customer and what meal would you put together for them?
A: President Barack Obama! I would serve him my fried baby back ribs, collard greens, mac ’n’ cheese, with banana pudding for dessert.
Q: Outside the soul food genre, what food do you like to go out for?
A: Lobster, I love lobster, and it can be stuffed with crab or shrimp. I really like shellfish and my husband’s allergic to it.