Samin Nosrat — Master Creative, Master Teacher (#339)

Photo by Adam Rose

“Things that caused me so much pain and confusion as a kid ended up being really wonderful tools in my work.” — Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat (@ciaosamin) is a writer, chef, and teacher who is masterful at turning complexity into simplicity. Her first book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, is a New York Times bestseller, a James Beard Award winner for Best General Cookbook, was named as Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and is soon to be a Netflix original documentary series produced by Jigsaw Productions.

Samin has been called “The next Julia Child” by NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and she has been cooking professionally since 2000.

This episode is about much more than cooking. It’s about the creative process, creative highs and lows (and how to push through those lows), rejection, vulnerability, and much more. If you liked the Brandon Stanton episode, you’re going to love this one. Please enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#339: Samin Nosrat — Master Creative, Master Teacher

Want to hear another podcast with a world-class chef and writer? — Listen to my conversation with Eric Ripert in which we discuss daily routines, mindfulness, conquering anger, and more! (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#268: Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Samin Nosrat:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  • How do you pronounce “Samin,” anyway? [05:32]
  • Samin tells us about her manifestation journal: how it originated, how often she’s used it since then, what happens when it gets lost, what it helps her put in perspective, and how it’s formatted. [06:07]
  • Samin shares some of her earlier goals from the journal and explains what a bay leaf piñata is. [12:02]
  • How does Samin follow the goals put forth in her journal, and is she ever embarrassed by what she’s written there? [13:00]
  • What does Samin do to dig her way out when she finds herself at the rock bottom of the creative process? [15:44]
  • As a perfectionist, how did Samin get over the fear that her book might not be received well? What has she done to overcome a lifetime need for external validation? [19:24]
  • We discuss the pain we’ve shared from mistakes making it to first printing — from the resulting hate mail to learning to forgive ourselves. [23:34]
  • What kind of therapy has been most helpful for Samin? [31:10]
  • How does Samin’s therapy increase her somatic awareness and allow her to reconnect with her own body? How does this enhance her gut intuition? [33:53]
  • Honest feedback from Samin’s friend made her cry for two hours — this is why it was a good thing. [36:11]
  • When did Samin first fall in love with food? [42:33]
  • Samin talks about growing up as the daughter of Iranian immigrants in San Diego with a foot in each world — and how it instilled what she considers one of her superpowers. [45:34]
  • Samin shares a Marco Pierre White quote about people who have suffered tragedy early in life. [49:44]
  • Samin never forgets what it was like to be an absolute beginner in the kitchen, which helps her reach people experiencing cooking for the first time. [51:39]
  • How Michael Pollan helped Samin find her teaching voice. [54:03]
  • Samin’s first exposure to fine dining and Alice Waters, and how she started working at Chez Panisse. [56:52]
  • Samin talks about the first letters she wrote reaching out to Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. [1:01:19]
  • How overcoming her fear of asking got Samin into Michael Pollan’s exclusive class, which led to collaboration and entry into a community of journalists and writers she wouldn’t otherwise have known. [1:06:31]
  • Books that have had a tremendous influence on Samin. [1:13:14]
  • What apparent failures have set Samin up for success? [1:20:34]
  • How might an editor deliver criticism to Samin in a constructive way that builds trust? [1:24:57]
  • The two biggest culinary failures of Samin’s career. [1:29:27]
  • Why Samin opened what became a successful food market and the internal conflicts she faced when she made the decision to close it. [1:31:44]
  • How this experience attuned Samin to understand when doing things she doesn’t want to do interferes with lifelong ambitions. [1:39:02]
  • Samin talks about teaching Michael Pollan to cook, throwing around potential book ideas, and how she settled on writing Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. [1:46:21]
  • Why Samin’s writing residency early in the process didn’t give her the results she was seeking. [1:51:52]
  • Even Samin the artisan bread hoarder frequently goes through imposter syndrome when writing. Then she’s reminded why her writing is valued. [1:53:19]
  • Should you write a book? [1:55:27]
  • Why did Samin decide to do a television show, and what surprised her about the process? [1:57:12]
  • What can viewers expect from the series? [2:06:55]
  • Samin’s kitchen stocking recommendations. [2:08:47]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:16:14]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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22 Replies to “Samin Nosrat — Master Creative, Master Teacher (#339)”

  1. Loving Samin’s quote too. Thank goodness I experienced some pain and suffering as a kid. No way I’d be the person I am today. Periods of pain and suffering help you face, feel and release many fears that most folks never face, embrace and release. This is why Samin is world famous and so creative; she stuck around for the feelings, cleared ’em and learned prospering lessons.

    1. That quote hits home for me too. Does anyone have the full reference for the quote on those who suffer & see the world from the outside? I’d like to read it in context with what Marco Pierre White was digging into.

      As an aside, I was listening to this podcast on my trip down to Nashville for a seminar. Some of my colleagues really wanted me to join them & the cool kids at a local bar, which is no longer my thing, but I went along for the camaraderie. I found it interesting how I quickly disengaged from conversation to observe the world around me (not difficult at the volume of a club). Apparently, I seemed down/sad to my one friend. But having heard this quote, and the reference to being a ‘warrior’ due to the early trauma struck home very quickly. Probably a level of primal instinct for those of us in that category that we’re keeping vigilant in a situation like that for an attacker instead of being relaxed and enjoying our company. An interesting concept for sure.

  2. Samin, what a lovely lovely person. So real and so vulnerable. I’ve listened to quite a few of your podcasts Tim and I have to say, this is definitely one of my favorites.

  3. This is my favorite podcast to date! Loved Samin and her message of trusting your gut, while forging your path. Down to earth, eloquent and wonderfully insightful. Thank you!

  4. Loved this interview.What an inspiring person! I got so many new insights and in particular about her pain being a catalyst for discovering her strengths. Thanks for what you do!

  5. 1) Samin mentioned that she remembers what it was like when she didn’t know the least bit about cooking to explain to a newbie how to cook / improve. Is there anyone that u can recommend in the business space who can do this for a newbie business person. I’ve beat my head against the proverbial wall for 20+ years. Everyone seems to jump from “I’ve been there” to “look at me now” w no path in between. “I was clueless. One day I got break. The rest is history.” Very unhelpful.

    2) Tim thought he “misspoke” when he referred to us podcast listeners “reading” the discussion. Both my oldest daughter & I see the world w subtitles turned on. Every audio input (live or pre-recorded) including this podcast runs like a scrolling ticker across my mind’s eye. If it can be given lettered descriptives like crash or pop, I’ll see that. Music is incomprehensible colors, a swirling kaleidoscope like Remmy eating in “Rataouile”. I feel like a need a paintbrush to play the violin, not a bow.

  6. One of my most favourite podcasts so far. Loved how real Samin is. Lots of great advice from real life hard learned lessons. Looking forward to the Netflix show!

  7. Look forward to listening to this podcast as it complements the five bullet Friday message I received this morning! Fascinating article and insight into the dynamics of the publishing marketplace. I have just gone live with an online DIY art printing business and would greatly appreciate your feedback and insight. JTA

  8. Ha! My husband and I ‘directed’ our four children’s education wo enrollment in a traditional public or private institution until they out-paced us and we used the colleges nearby or online assists. This began 25+ years ago and now we are welcoming ‘grands’ into the family fold. During their high school years, they had a gentleman who was a rotor who now has a national outreach and teaches the Great Books of the Western World. Required coursework much to the chagrin and few to the delight of the students, was a course called Euclidean Geometry using Elements to conquer the proofs. It was fascinating, like a puzzle, an exercise in logic and definitely a brain stretcher. The 4 year GBT course was one of the richest engagements they had in their high school years for many reasons. Added to that, a writing course that has set them all up for functional success in their fields: one a successful young entrepreneur who hit the wall when puberty hit him, another a doc, another a well respected Crossfit trainer and coach and mentor, the fourth a young vivacious budding accountant. I just want to say that my husband and I are just everyday people who had unity (NOT always!) and a passion to not settle for status quo in the responsibility of raising OUR children. We had to work for a living during it all, so we had no special circumstances to give our children what we valued. We were two city people, east meeting west, who went a little bit ‘country’ to explore the advantages and experience the dusadvantures of self-directed education. It was worth the sacrifice tho it nearly killed me to wrap myself around it each year especially as they got older.

    Person I’m learning more about —

    Euclid (fl. 300 BC), sometimes given the name Euclid of Alexandria

  9. Tim, I’ve been listening to your podcasts since I was a teenage girl. (Many years) I wanted to know your thoughts on the current political and cultural climate for women in America, especially following the Kavanaugh nomination. I have cried today, and am losing faith and trust in everything. How do I continue to live in this world where my life and soul is crushed by those meant to protect me? I’m learning to stand up for myself, when others don’t, but I wanted your advice on how to navigate this time in my life and in history, and how to overcome this grief in order to achieve. I see how far we have yet to go.

  10. Graves disease and hyperthyroidism: I have the aforementioned autoimmune disease, mood disorder, anxiety. I also have tried low carb in the past and I get headaches. I eat for emotional reasons and despite getting a 4 pack have never gotten to six pack status due to over consumption. I got multiple overuse injuries the last time I tried a similar bodybuilder diet and was exercising several hours a day. I am worried about this diet! I want to try it but I am afraid I will A. Feel like crap and cheat or B. Fail at acheiving desired results. Suggestions? Also anyone have medical data about hyper (not hypo) thyroidism.

  11. I listened to this podcast over the course of a few days, and I’m sad it’s over. I think I’ll hit replay! Samin is so warm and engaging, and I can’t wait to read her book and watch her show. She has a new stalker…I mean fan!

  12. I loved the interview with Samin! Her laugh is delightful and captivating! I typically enjoy cooking shows but watching the 4-part documentary after listening to this podcast was a completely different experience. I went into it with such high hopes and I was STILL blown away. I have not gotten to put my hands on her book but I am looking forward to it and already have a handful of people that I want to give it to. I hope it comes with (or at least had the option to include) a copy of the show. Now I really want to get in the kitchen and learn about my culinary Cajun heritage! I just wish I had the experience of hearing/seeing Samin’s passion before my Pop passed. He was one of the finest cooks I know and every gumbo will be compared to his.

  13. Thank you Tim for getting us to listen to such great personalities from different walks of life. I wish your show goes international and we get to know achievers who are not in US necessarily.

    About your promotional content, to be specific athletic greens, its usually for American listeners. Could it be possible to make available deals for international users? I am sure lot of us (outside US) will be interested. 🙂