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Chef de Tucson: Sunny Anne Holliday, chef and owner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls
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Chef de Tucson: Sunny Anne Holliday, chef and owner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls

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Aug. 14, 1989. Sunny Anne Holliday, (formerly known as Margaret “Penny” Raisglid ), joined a friend for a presentation on vivisection, the surgical dissection of animals for research, or in the case of this particular event, the practice as it relates to food preparation.

It was the day Holliday became a vegan.

“I was a diehard carnivore up until that moment,” she says. “I came out of there knowing I could never finance those industries again. It just went against my sense of ethics.”

Holliday, who holds a doctorate in chemistry and “played chemist” for most of her life, would go on a 26-year journey developing recipes and studying the benefits of living a vegan life. In 2005, she took all of her research and original recipes and opened her own restaurant to promote a plant-based lifestyle, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, 2990 N. Campbell Ave., No. 120.

“For years friends had been telling me I should take all of the recipes I’d developed and open a restaurant or write a cookbook,” she adds. Now, she has done both.

Taking the most popular recipes from customer favorites over the past 10 years, Holliday has published “Lovin’ Spoonfuls at Home.” The Loft will host a book signing 5-7 p.m. Friday.

“So many people are learning about the benefits of a plant-based diet,” Holliday says. “One of the most common frustrations people express is not knowing how to get started. I wanted to put together a really simple cookbook that uses ingredients that are easy to get, that show people exactly what to do and event suggest what meals to make for a particular day.”

In writing the book, Holliday says she prepared each dish, then personally photographed the finished dish so people could see exactly what it should look like when prepared. Then she ate each dish to make sure it tasted just right. Fans of the restaurant may notice props from the restaurant used in the photography.

Holliday has already been thinking about her next book, “Lovin’ Spoonfuls At Home for the Holidays.”

“I thought about this first book for years,” she says. “It took nine months to produce, so I’m planning the next edition for next year.”

We had some other questions for Holliday:

What are three ingredients that are always found in your fridge?

Currently, there’s almost nothing in my fridge besides my husband’s beer. I have all my meals at the restaurant since I’m almost always there. I do like a bedtime snack, which is generally grapes or toasted nuts, or my favorite, fresh ripe cherries when they’re in season.

What is the one piece of advice you offer folks when they ask about why vegan is a better way to eat?

I like to remind them that it’s so win-win. The health benefits are enormous, the environmental impact is greatly reduced and, of course, you no longer contribute to the suffering of farmed animals.

What is your favorite comfort food?

I am a huge fan of mashed potatoes. Sometimes I’ll even have them for breakfast topped with guacamole and garlic salt.

Mary Minor Davis is a Tucson writer. She can be reached at mary@write-attitude.com

Get cooking: Find Chef Holliday’s recipe for cashew-mushroom pâté at tucson.com/food


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