Eat / Solutions

Community Table Dinner with Sonoko Sakai and Glen Roberts (SOLD OUT) Friday, February 7, 5:30 pm

Find out what happens when a culinary master partners with a grain activist to design a delicious sustainable meal, representative of the future of food.

Community Table Dinner with Sonoko Sakai and Glen Roberts (SOLD OUT)
Event Type

Community Table


3 hours




$125 for members; $125 for non-members


The Ecology Center
32701 Alipaz St
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
Google Map


Tickets are non-refundable. The Ecology Center shall not be liable for full or partial non-utilization of tickets or loss of recreational or dining opportunities due to site constraints, capacity, weather or any circumstances beyond our control.

The event is outdoors in our courtyard, farm, and gardens, so we recommend casual clothing. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a sunhat and a light jacket or shawl.

We will be taking pictures and possibly video to use on our website, social and other educational media, and by registering for this workshop you agree to our photo/video release policy.

Join us on Friday, February 7th for an inspired evening with two individuals who are shifting the food system– Sonoko Sakai and Glen Roberts!

Sonoko Sakai is a chef, cooking teacher, author, and grain activist based in Los Angeles and Tehachapi, California. Sonoko offers Japanese cooking workshops around the country and overseas. Her cooking philosophy adheres to freshness, seasonality, simplicity, beauty, and economy. At its most fundamental level, her philosophy is about respecting the ingredients and letting their natural flavor come through, she believes your ingredients should be as fresh and seasonal as possible. Relatedly, let the ingredients speak for themselves! Her cooking is rooted in her Japanese heritage reflecting her rich cultural upbringing.

As a grain activist, she is working towards building a healthy and sustainable economy by restoring heirloom varieties of grains and introducing modern varieties. In 2011, she received a seed grant from Anson Mills to start a grain hub in Southern California. This initiative— Tehachapi Grain Project is currently in its third year growing a variety of ancient grains and stirring a lot of excitement in the Los Angeles baking community.

For our meal, she will make a Japanese style curry with relish, served with Glen Roberts’ famous Carolina Gold rice. 

Glen Roberts

Glenn Roberts, the founder of Anson Mills, is considered to be a culinary anthropologist and modern-day Johnny Appleseed… but with rice. He has made it his life’s work to change the agricultural system, shifting back to tradition and bringing back heritage grain rice.

The story of rice, particularly Carolina Gold rice, is like the story of so much of our food system. After hundreds of years of distinctly flavored rices, modernization shifted most of the nation’s farms into monoliths, and crops inched further and further away from flavor. The hand-picked rices of South Carolina were discarded for stronger versions that were less susceptible to pests and easier to harvest mechanically. They were sterilized and polished, and even coated for luster. The soil burned up from growing the same plant over and over again. “We mastered creating a product that could sit on a shelf for years at a time and feed millions around the world, but in the process, we lost the flavor — and the nutrition.”

But Roberts spent years going back to the roots of the rice, finding old seed varietals, perfecting pre-industrial milling techniques, and rotating crops to improve the soil. What we know today as rice, Roberts argues, is “totally chemically different stuff” in aroma, flavor, and texture. And has since then set out to make rice great again, starting a small grain revolution.

Join us to learn about Glen’s journey to shift the food system through Heritage grain rice and Sonoko’s commitment to heritage, tradition, and grain activism through her cooking.