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[whitespace] Flavor Vista: Joshua Cooperman and Liselot Sandell of Sunny Skies.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

Vegan Visions

Sunny Skies opens up new vistas with a line of organic whole-meal salads

By Janet Blaser

IF, LIKE ME, you're often too busy to cook the kinds of foods you'd like to eat, then a new local company may be just up your alley. Under the uplifting name of Sunny Skies, Joshua Cooperman and fiancée Liselot Sandell are making and marketing a line of organic, vegan whole-meal salads that are fresh, flavorful, and versatile enough to be eaten hot or cold.

Joshua has been a chef for years, most recently (and still) a personal chef for a Bonny Doon family. Growing up in Carmel Valley, he worked both the front and back of house in many restaurants and has come back home to roost in Santa Cruz after living in the Midwest for a number of years. Since he got back, friends have been badgering him about writing a cookbook or somehow marketing his cooking skills. Instead, he packaged up one of his dishes and took it to a grocery store to see what kind of a response he'd get. As they say, the rest is history.

A fairly new convert to a vegan diet, Josh says he feels better than he ever has. My guess is that you'll feel better, too, after eating any of the Sunny Skies products. (My co-workers, many of whom tasted the samples, obviously felt the same way--especially about the Manifesto Pesto Pasta Salad, which disappeared the fastest. When I did finally get a chance to taste it, I understood why: the pesto was light and vibrant, thick but not cloying, with an enterprising mélange of flavors.) The eggless tofu salad is similarly light, and abundant with spring flavors--celery, green onions, carrots, bell peppers, cucumber. And the potato salad was reminiscent of my mother's, with a good hint of dill to take the taste buds beyond mayo and mustard.

Keep an eye out for tastings at local stores in the fall, as well as a new item coming out soon. Highway 69 (a reflection of Josh's years spent in Indiana) will be a revolving menu of different seasonal items, things like stuffing during the holidays, or an eggplant and tomato pasta in the summer. Right now Sunny Skies (named after Josh's grandmother, Sunny) offers half a dozen selections: Manifesto Pesto Pasta Salad, Roasted Bell Pepper and Walnut Pasta Salad, High Thai Peanut Noodle Salad, Potato Salad, Eggs-L-N-Tay Eggless Tofu Salad and Curry Tofu Salad. All are available in 8-oz. containers in the refrigerated section of local markets (including New Leaf, Staff of Life, and the Food Bin), Rainbow Cooperative and Real Foods in San Francisco, and other assorted health food stores in the Bay Area.

Burger Notes

Those of you who've been salivating there at the intersection of Almar and Mission on the West Side, wondering just exactly when you'd be able to get a big ol' Carpo's burger without driving all the way to the other side of town, can just stop your fretting. It's not going to happen. That's the news from Todd Todd, owner of Carpo's original location in Soquel, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary in April. Without throwing any stones, let's just say the whole procedure got too complicated and expensive, and Todd realized he'd be better off just renovating the building into retail space to rent.

Got a food tip? Email Janet at [email protected]

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From the August 23-30, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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