Younhee Choi says the name Mad Crisp came from reading an article in The New Yorker.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TIFFANY L. CLARK
What inspired you to make your own crackers?
Cocktail hour! I love entertaining and always wanted a fun, easy, elevated snack that would go with a glass of wine or cocktails. I had some downtime between projects, so I started trying to come up with something that was healthy and guilt free but still delicious.
How did you land on using crispy quinoa as the main ingredient?
There was a lot of experimentation. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’d never worked with crispy quinoa puffs. I think there are a lot of foods out there with grains and nuts, but they are usually more like bars and almost always use something sweet as a binding. I wanted to do something savory.
What inspired the flavors — porcini herb, chive almond, and za’atar pistachio?
They mimic real food. The first one I came up with was porcini herb because I used to make mushroom tarts all the time. I loved cooking them when guests would come over, so I wanted to do something like that in a cracker form.
How did you come up with the name Mad Crisp?
I was reading The New Yorker a couple of years ago, and they were talking about the best books of 2018. One of them was this novel Green [by Sam Graham-Felsen] about kids growing up in the ’90s. There was a bit of dialogue with the phrase “mad crisp,” and I said, “That’s it. That is my name!” It’s cool, different — and they really are crisp.
How long have you been in Rancho Mirage?
I’ve owned my house for about five years. Originally, it was just a weekend place. I’d come to the desert with friends and for tennis. Because of COVID, I started living here full time. It’s been a great place to be while working on Mad Crisp. I found a big kitchen with huge windows that look out at the desert. It’s so nice — and very different than some of the cramped New York kitchens I worked in.
"(Rancho Mirage) has been a great place to be while working on Mad Crisp," says Choi.
I love to take visitors to the Indian Canyons. You have the waterfalls and the palm trees. It’s so beautiful over there. I also like going to Sunnylands [Center & Gardens]. I’ll sometimes grab a coffee and take a quick stroll around by myself for a bit of peace and quiet.