Most Influential People2019

Samin Nosrat

By Alice Waters
Chef and food writer Samin Nosrat
Cole Wilson for TIME

Years ago, Samin Nosrat taught me how to make fresh mozzarella bocconcini; I remember she was so encouraging, showing me how to carefully hand-form the little bocconcini in hot water. There is magic in the way Samin teaches. She wins you over immediately with an irresistible combination of warmth, honesty, deep understanding of cooking and that ebullient laugh of hers. If anyone can show us how to cook, it is Samin.

So it’s no surprise that her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and her Netflix series are both so groundbreaking. Her book is rich with science and technique but never feels weighty; it has a joyful, whimsical quality that demystifies cooking in a very personal way. You can feel that same exuberant curiosity and radical openness in Samin’s series—she’s learning from the farmers who take care of the land, the women making their grandmothers’ recipes and of course her own mother, who taught Samin how to make tahdig, Persian crisped rice.

Samin shows us what a beautiful experience it is to understand your ingredients—where they come from, who grew them, how alive they are, how people around the world transform them in delicious, diverse ways. I love the passion and poise with which Samin delivers this message about food. Because in the end, it’s a universal message, and it’s one we have forgotten: that cooking is about care.

Waters is an award-winning chef and cookbook author