AFM: Tell us about your top culinary influences and how you have evolved as a chef.
SE: There are too many to name. I can say this though I am influenced by everyone around me. My cooks and coworkers, my wife and daughters, my family and friends. Many people have mentored me in many different ways. The culinary community just lost one of our greats in Chef Glenn Humphrey. He was an influence to so many here in the Valley and across the country. Chef was the definition of mentor. He is missed.
AFM: Susan Cope, your wife and director of events and marketing at Pink Pony. She is, in a word, cool. Tell us about meeting for coffee, grinning at each other while driving on the freeway, and who planted the first kiss.
SE: Susan is the bees knees. How did I get so lucky? We were tasked with a few projects together while opening Gertrude’s. Neither one of us wanted a relationship, neither one us wanted to be trapped by material possessions (neither one of us owned a couch or a TV), but it just happened so slowly and perfectly. It started out over coffee at Jobot discussing social media marketing agenda. Then I kind of asked her out to see a speaker about spelunking at the Mesa Center for the Arts and she linked her arm in mine. We took a walk out to the community garden at the DBG, and when we got back to our cars, I was too nervous to kiss her! So when we left, we were driving side by side down Van Buren and every time we would look at each other, we would have a goofy little smile. I should have just kissed her. I tell you now I couldn’t stop thinking about that fail and I would not let it happen again. Susan invited me over for coffee later that week and we were sitting on the kitchen floor and Larkin (her dog) was all over me giving me kisses and I said: “At least someone has the courage to kiss someone,” and Susan responded with “Oh really now!” That’s when I realized I had to get it done, so I kissed her, right on the kitchen floor. It was kind of awesome and I was in love then and there. We moved in together a couple weeks later and it wasn’t long before I asked her to marry me. I am the luckiest man!
AFM: That little doll, who is the apple of your eye...how well does she have you wrapped around her little finger?
SE: Oh, she has me wrapped so tightly! This is going to sound funny at first, but one of the best things that ever happened to me was to tear ligaments in my ankle and I had reconstructive surgery on the 13th of June, 2014. Sharon Rae decided she wanted to meet Mom and Dad a little quicker than expected. She arrived 6 weeks early, just five days after my surgery, on June 18. She was tiny, 3 pounds 15 oz. but she was our peanut and I was head over heels. She was in the NICU for a week and on the seventh day she came home. Since I had just had surgery, I was fortunate enough to be at home with her for a couple of months while I rehabbed. It was a bonding period most dads don’t get. I am the luckiest man!
AFM: What has she taught you?
SE: Patience, and unconditional love. It’s different than the way that you love your brothers and sisters or parents. It’s unfathomable -- the depth of love you have as a parent. Sharon Rae is an unbelievable little girl with such a great personality, so funny (and she knows it), sweet and super smart, and her strength and determination inspires me to be better. I love her. I am the luckiest man!