We had the good fortune of connecting with Saba Parsa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Saba, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I think being a creative has been in me since day one! I have been creating and making for as long as I can remember but initially I didn’t choose the creative path as my career. As an immigrant with a long line of engineers and scientists in my family, the obvious choice was for me to be an engineer, which I ended up being! I’ve got a masters degree in Chemical Engineering and worked in the biotech industry for about a decade. This was fun: being at the forefront of exciting developments in DNA sequencing and managing global teams. But, I always knew that I can’t survive without a creative outlet. So for all those years that I worked as an engineer, I came home to making jams or doing pottery. Three years ago, I finally had enough courage to let go of my day job and focus only on my creative outlets. I now have an award winning jam company and teach ceramics.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
After grad school when I moved back to San Francisco from Boston, I had a new appreciation for the bounty of California fruits. While I was eating up all the delicious fruits in Bay Area, my partner was still living in Boston and having to eat the tasteless truck-ripened peaches available there. So, in an attempt to share the fruits with him, I started preserving as many as I could and sending them to him. This was back in 2008 and I haven’t stopped since. Once I started, I got more and more involved: processing the fruits became a nightly meditative ritual when I came home from work—it has helped me through many rough patches over the years; the fruits are what keep me connected to seasons and define the rhythm for my life. As I learned more techniques, I realized how much of this flow of seasonal preserving is what I grew up with back in my grandparents’ home in Tehran.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
These days I’m usually a visitor to Los Angeles myself so I tend to go back to all the great places I missed eating at. The Iranian community in LA is the largest outside of Iran and with that comes a lot of good Iranian eateries you can’t find anywhere else, mostly concentrated in Westwood. I always stop by Attari Sandwhich Shop for the best tongue sandwich; Raffi’s Place for the quintessential Iranian dish chelokabob, or visit the ladies over at Teeleet for a feast of Abgoosht/Dizi. If I’m in town for the weekend, I’d love to catch a farmers market and then take a Japanese cooking class with the amazing Sonoko Sakai. And always grabbing a Konbi egg sandwich on my way to the airport after a whole day of taking in the ocean breeze.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Literature! Reading has been my biggest inspiration: weather it’s fiction, poetry, or biographies, truly inspire me to see the bigger picture. It reminds me that I, and my daily mundane, are part of a larger puzzle. It pulls me out of my own head, so I’ll have space to think about what I’m creating next. And of course, the seasons and the excitement that comes with change: as the peaches give way to pomegranates and persimmons, I learn to let go of one and embrace the other.