Banana bread, but better. 🍌🍞🍠 That’s the top secret recipe you’re about to get straight out of Sugarcane: Sweet Recipes from My Half-Filipino Kitchen—officially out tomorrow! From chef, baker, and food writer Arlyn Osborne (she/her), the debut cookbook is filled with desserts inspired by her Filipino heritage and backed by years of culinary expertise (see: a graduate of FCI in NYC, former Food & Wine Magazine employee, previous recipe developer at Food Network, etc.).

Before you get your hands dirty (with flour!), dig into the details of Aryln’s childhood and cooking inspirations below.

When did you get into cooking?
Cooking wasn’t a common thing in my household growing up. It was an activity that was reserved mostly for special occasions. A lot of our meals came from the freezer section or fast food chains: whatever was quick, cheap, and didn’t require any dishes. I also grew up in the ‘90s and Y2K (aka the cable TV era), so I loved watching Food Network. The programs were educational and made everything look easy. I just thought, “I can do that.” But, our family was on a tight budget. However, ingredients like flour, sugar, and eggs were fairly inexpensive at the time. So, I went the baking route. Which was perfect, because I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

It wasn’t until after I’d graduated college, and had been working a corporate job for a few years, that I seriously considered a food media career. (Mainly, because I didn’t even know it was a thing until then.) I moved to NYC, went to culinary school, and started navigating my way within the industry.

How did your Filipino roots influence your new cookbook?
I grew up in a small town in the Southern Outer Banks of NC. There wasn’t a lot of diversity or a substantial Asian American community. Going to Fil-Am parties with my mom and visiting relatives were the main ways I had exposure to my culture outside of home. Cooking was never my mom’s thing, but she had a few specialities and would make a lot of Filipino dishes during the holidays.

I’m half Filipino, half white. And for me, the biggest challenge of being mixed race is how to interpret and navigate perpetually being in the middle of something, forever in that gray area where I might not be Asian enough or white enough for a given circumstance. Cooking has always been a way for me to make sense of things, and so the recipes in Sugarcane reflect my identity in that it merges together aspects of Filipino and Western cuisine.

When you’re not busy making delish dishes, what are you up to?
I spend a lot of time at home due to the nature of my job, which I love since I’m such a homebody. It’s where I write, create content, and develop recipes. I’m really into interior design because of it, too. I enjoy making beautiful spaces that are purposeful and functional—it’s like a puzzle.

And finally, what does cooking mean to you?
Cooking has been there for me in a lot of different ways throughout my life. It’s allowed me to channel a sense of control during difficult times. It’s a method of communication for when I can’t find the words. And it’s been a way for me to understand my culture and identity, and preserve the traditions and stories that have been passed down in my family.