This post comes at the perfect time. Why? Because tomorrow night at Three Alarm Grill Yvette Bidegain, otherwise known as Saucy Mama, will be cooking up soul food at Three Alarm Grill (707-604-6102, 16218 Main Street, Guerneville, CA 95446).
Every Monday from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM you’ll find Yvette, her husband, and the rest of the crew serving up West County’s best soul food. Fried chicken, ribs, beans and greens, macaroni and cheese… the options are out of this world, the price is right and everything is made with a lot of love.
If you don’t know Yvette, this interview will give you a closer look at her roots and the people that inspired her soul food cooking.
Tell me about your history in West County?
I am a West County native and was born and raised here. I attended Forestville Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary and El Molino High School. My parents had many kids and I was number seven of nine. Five of my siblings were born in Mississippi and the rest of us were born here in West County.
Why Soul Food?
Soul Food was a staple in my upbringing. My parents moved from the South and raised us like we were still in the South. While growing up I really didn’t want to eat the foods my parentscooked, but that is what was served and you didn’t get to be choosy on what you ate. So, take it or leave it. After moving out I actually missed having all of that down home cooking. It was nice visiting my parents as they would always have a meal prepared for all of us when we came to the house. My parents had a restaurant years ago called Richardson’s Ribs (yes I am a Richardson) so I wanted to make sure we did Ribs and also decided to share lots of the other great foods we got to enjoy growing up.
What is your history in the world of food
Over the years my parents had three Rib Restaurants and catered at the Sonoma County Fair for many years. Back then we had to help with anything my parents were working on. So, we all worked and helped in all of their businesses. Although I have not had any formal training in a cooking school, our teacher was my Dad. He did the majority of the cooking when we were growing up. He never measured anything and would say, “that’s not how you cook”. I would try to cook something with him and before he would put it in the pot I would say, “Okay Daddy let me measure what you are putting into that dish.” That got to be too much work because he was always altering the recipe 10 or more times while working on a pot of what was cooking. So now I cook like my dad did and I like to think my foods always turn out just like his.
What is your favorite dish you make Saucy Mama?
Ohh, that’s a hard question as all of the ones I picked to serve were my favorites growing up. But if I have to pick one I’m going to say my Mac & Cheese.
Why did you decide to do a pop up and why not a full time restaurant?
When all of my kids were finally out school and out of the house I felt like I didn’t have responsibilities for anything or anyone. Before retiring I was running a 24/7 operation for Caltrans in the Traffic Management Center and was constantly busy. After retirement I went to work for a mortgage company in a Call Center. I would bring food to work and prepare it in the break room. All of the young adults I worked with called me Big Mama. They would say… “Hey Big Mama, what are you cooking?” So, I ended up preparing big lunches for the company and that was a lot of fun.
Then when interest rates started climbing up they started looking for other things for us to do. I decided I wanted to just do something different. I thought about a Food Truck but that is a lot of work and I was not willing to dedicate myself to a full time gig. While watching a show on television I learned all about pop up restaurants and thought I could do one day a week (well it’s really more than one day a week). One day of serving food was a great compromise from working full time.
What is your favorite thing about living in West County?
The area is just down right Beautiful. We are blessed to live in an area where people come to visit. I also l
ike the small town feeling and love running into people I went to school with. It’s so refreshing meeting new people and when they remember who you are it is that much better. (EDITORIAL NOTE: Saucy Mama is unforgettable!)
Can you give us a recipe to share with the people
If I did that you guys wouldn’t come in and eat. But let me give you the basics for Mac and Cheese and you can figure out the rest. I start with a Béchamel sauce, then add cream cheese, sour cream, Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. Then chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Cooked elbow macaroni is added to the sauce, bread crumbs on top and then bake bake.