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The New Cooks in Town

Posted January 21, 2015 in Community Featured, Beaverdale

It was love at first bite for these Beaverdale residents…No, really.

“I actually met him at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in our hometown,” said Sophia Leven-Stott. “But it’s not as romantic as you might think. He was the cook.”

For one Beaverdale couple, it’s the food that makes the house —- and the neighborhood that inspires the chef. From left: Tom Stott, Sophia Leven-Stott and their neighbors. Photos by Chris Kelley.

For one Beaverdale couple, it’s the food that makes the house —- and the neighborhood that inspires the chef. From left: Tom Stott, Sophia Leven-Stott and their neighbors.
Photos by Chris Kelley.

Picture this: a quaintly decorated, warm and inviting Beaverdale home in the early Iowa winter. Everything seems calm, relaxing, even serene. Then—BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

“What are you burning now!?” shouted Sophia from the other end of the house.

Her young husband, Thomas, came out of the kitchen with a goofy chef hat and a smile to match. He tried to explain to his furious wife that he was only trying out a new dish to impress her parents, and after a healthy quarrel, the two find themselves fanning out smoke and cooking the second course.

“It was a no-brainer to marry her,” said Tom, the resident chef-in-training of the house. And for Tom, the culinary graduate with a knack for new dishes, it was a no-brainer to train under his uncle, an accomplished metro chef.

“We had a lot of options when it came to finding a new home. We’re both from small town Southern Iowa, which is almost another world,” Sophia said as she dug through stowed away pans and took aim with a bottle of no-stick spray. “But three years ago, when we finally decided to make the jump, I took a close friend’s suggestion and now we’re here.”beaverdalejanuary1

The newlyweds couldn’t be happier with their Beaverdale zip code. “There’s a lot of different restaurants and food places in the area that really give me hope,” said Tom, who once believed he could never truly reach his full culinary potential in a fly-over state.  As he molded filo bread and toppings, it took him a moment to come up with the right word to compliment the area, “Des Moines and all these smaller cities really have a special kick to them.”

Five minutes later, a small argument over who was supposed to set the timer. 12 (approximately) minutes left in the oven.

The Leven-Stotts are no stranger to diversity. Both Sophia and Tom are first-generation Americans, the first two in their immediate families to go to college and obtain degrees. Both agree that everyone in Iowa has always been welcome to different ethnicities and nationalities, but find a relaxing atmosphere in their newest neighborhood.

“It’s nice to go out and meet so many people with so many different backgrounds,” said Sophia. The proud wife even told a story about her husband’s newfound friendship with a nearby neighbor that sparked an ongoing list of ethnic food mash-ups (and disasters) in their kitchen. While setting the table, she joked, “It’s not everyday you try Asian-themed squash or curry and calamari.”

The two found placemats as they welcomed over some neighborhood friends. They explained that they had all just recently met at a local bar. When Tom and Sophia realized how close their new friends were, they added them to the list of guests who got to sample their unique concoctions for free.

The two hurriedly placed drinks across the table, cursing under their breath as they realized they almost burnt the main course.

“My papa always told me,” said Tom as he carefully placed the oven’s contents onto separate serving plates. “Follow your passion—follow your dream. That’s when I discovered my talent and my beautiful wife. But it’s not all about food. I could be the greatest chef in the state and go completely unknown by living in a cornfield. Let’s just say moving to a place like Beaverdale is helping to even my odds.”

“Dinner is served!”

And the unique, zany and delightfully enjoyable meal they had to present? Well, you’ll just have to swing by their house sometime to find out.

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