Q&A: Chef Sandra Dailey talks cobbler, canning and giving back to the community

About a decade ago, Sandra Dailey swapped a successful Silicon Valley career for a chance to put an entrepreneurial spin on a lifelong passion, baking and cooking.

The result was Sandi’s Cobbler Cups and More, and who among jazz festival-goers could possibly resist a booth selling peach cobbler you could take back to your picnic blanket? The “more,” of course, refers to her lineup of Southern comfort food and Creole classics, including jambalaya, red beans and rice, and smothered pork chops.

After catering for tech companies, Dailey last fall got a chance to cater to football fans when she was selected by Levi’s Stadium to open a concession booth during San Francisco 49ers games.

We caught up with her to chat about her inspiration and her specialties.

Q: Why did you switch from biotech to this career?

A: After 37 years managing sales reps and lots of travel, Monterey to Montana, and trying to keep up with teenagers and missing my dog, a King Charles Cavalier named Duke, and oh … my amazing husband of 38 years, it was time.

Q: What was your first cooking experience?

A: Going to my Grandma’s house and learning to make hot-water cornbread and cooking at home at the side of my Mom and Dad. I grew up in Palo Alto the youngest of five, and we all had chores around the house. If you cooked dinner, you did not have to wash dishes — and I hated washing dishes — so I chose to cook almost every day and leave LOTS of dirty dishes for my brothers and sisters if they made me mad.

Q: Your menu is a long one. Is there one dish that’s a sentimental favorite?

A: Seafood gumbo.

Q: Did you pick up other cooking skills as a child?

A: Every weekend during peach, pear, apple and vegetable harvest seasons, I would go to my grandmother Big Momma’s house in San Jose and pick fruits and vegetables and can them. I learned the importance of preserving and sterilizing at the age of 5. I now volunteer and teach classes on canning at the African American Community Services Agency in San Jose .

Q: Your first season at Levi’s Stadium was a success for you — and for the 49ers. What did you cook on Super Bowl Sunday?

A: I made a bread pudding with bourbon sauce for a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house.

Q: You’ve lived in Santa Clara for more than 32 years. When you’re not cooking, where in town do you like to eat?

A: Sushi O Sushi.

Q: What have you been doing since March, when the coronavirus shutdown started?

A: I’ve been working as a volunteer at Hunger at Home. My friend and colleague Dinari Brown, the COO there, was the previous executive chef at Levi’s Stadium who opened the door for me to have my very own concession stand, and for that I am grateful. When Dinari contacted me and told me about all the pallets upon pallets of food that are being donated due to the shutdown of restaurants, hotels, stadiums and entertainment venues — and that they now need to turn these amazing food donations into meals — I was all in.

Since my catering business also came to an abrupt halt and companies were no longer ordering lunches or dinners for their staff, I had to stay busy. So I jumped right in to volunteer my skills with the production of meals for local families. To date, we have served over 400,000 meals.

Details: Whether or not the 49ers are back at Levi’s Stadium this fall, Dailey will be back in her catering kitchen. For large group catering orders, find Dailey’s company online at www.sandiscatering.com or text 408-398-8044.

Source: mercurynews
Q&A: Chef Sandra Dailey talks cobbler, canning and giving back to the community