Makini Kai Howell, my middle sister, and the owner and chef at Plum Bistro in Seattle is about to release a cookbook! Crazy! It’s milestones like that that make you realize a few things; first off we’re getting old and secondly when did all this life start happening?
I remember us growing up; we were like two peas in a pod. She was closest in age to me and also a tomboy! So anything I did she could do. Often times, better.
She was always daring me to do stuff, pushing me out of my comfort zone. I learned my boundaries from peer pressure pretty early. She was indeed stronger and smarter than me back then, so I was the one who ended up falling in the blackberry thicket, I was the one who got stung by the bumble bees we were catching in plastic bags, I decided not to scale an overpass because it “looked fun.”
By the time I finally hit puberty and got bigger and stronger than her she was over being a tomboy and not interested in competing with me. We took on different careers, and she went into fashion after our oldest sister Afi and I opened a sandwich shop in Seattle.
It would be ten years before we lived in the same city again. But she moved back home after corporate burnout and everyone knew her as Ayinde’s sister from New York. I was on family biz burnout so we tagged out and I moved to NYC while she stayed in Seattle. Now when I come back to Seattle, after only seven years of being away, and everyone knows me as Makini’s brother. She’s fast.
As far as the cooking hierarchy goes I was the last to learn to cook. I was chief eater. They’d even sit me on the table as a baby to watch me eat, because I was adorable! Wait this is supposed to be about my sister!
The girls learned to cook first and we often joke that no one remembers Makini’s cooking to be outstanding as it never really interested her. So what happened in these seven years?
Let’s go back to the childhood days. While we were ripping and running around Tacoma on BMX bikes our parents were cooking vegan food every night and making Makini help with dinner. Now my mom will say they had us help with a specific purpose in mind and they didn’t know how, but being vegan by way of Rastafarianism was part of it.
We were all three different manifestations of an idea. An idea that was very powerful. So much so it broke apart families. But our parents had faith. From the co-op on 6th ave in Tacoma, to where veganism is in the northwest today, growing up in the vegan community I can say that it has grown leaps and bounds, especially in these past decade.
Makini’s manifestation of the idea or concept Plum was that perfect moment when an idea meets the right time.
While we all may agree Mom’s cooking is best (Afi rules desserts for me) Makini’s twist coupled with her New York dining sensibilities brought fourth something no one even knew was missing in the northwest. Plum. An idea who’s time has come.
When you eat at Plum, you will see the walls are littered with awards and accolades. The masculine energy of wood, metal and fire blend smoothly with a the very feminine floral and vertical garden arrangement… It’s what happens when a Northwest bred fashionista and tomboy grows up to be restaurateur.
Congratulations Big Sis, you got this one!