By Denise Sakaki
Having spent years cultivating her Orcas Island restaurant, Allium , chef Lisa Nakamura has seen first-hand the benefits of keeping your money


Chef Lisa Nakamura's 'Bucky the Dollar Bill' is a Recipe Book for a Small-Town Economy

By Denise Sakaki
Having spent years cultivating her Orcas Island restaurant, Allium, chef Lisa Nakamura has seen first-hand the benefits of keeping your money local. Splitting her time between the San Juan island and Seattle, Nakamura has found time to write a story on the very subject: Bucky the Dollar Bill traces the steps of a single dollar bill on Orcas. Initially a blog post, the story turned into a book, which has now whet the writing appetite of Nakamura, who says while she doesn't consider herself a writer, she'd like to knock out another book in the future.

See also:

Allium Restaurant's Lisa Nakamura Reflects on Wisdom Gained

Allium: The Cutest Restaurant in the Cutest Town on the Cutest Island in Washington

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Nakamura's monetary creation might not be as edible as her culinary delights, but Bucky is a lesson in consumption that's easy to swallow. And as if Bucky wasn't lovable enough, Nakamura is donating a buck for every book sold to the Orcas Family Health Center, which provides healthcare for everyone--regardless if they can afford it.

What inspired you to write the book?

Working in a small town, it is much clearer and easier to see how buying local or supporting charities that directly affect the local population works. There is so much give and take, and everyone in the community is affected.

I was frustrated on many levels as we on the island are so dependent on things outside our control: ferry schedules and fare increases, economic pressures affecting tourists, the decrease of a year-round population. I started thinking about how the dollars I spend on Orcas, and about what their journey would be like, if seen through the eyes of a single dollar bill. I initially wrote a blog post, which became the Bucky we know. What originally was intended for kids morphed into a story that I think appeals to a wide range of ages.

I asked Denise Sakaki to help me with the layout of the book. I also asked her what she thought Bucky looked like. Denise had already "doodled" Bucky and I loved it!

That was the beginning.

A friend told me about Create Space, and after weighing the options, I decided to self-publish, as I felt Bucky's message was pertinent to what's going on now and didn't want to wait for the very slim chance that a publisher would say "yes."

Another friend suggested that I ask Thomas [Keller] to write the foreword. He graciously agreed.

By Harley Lever
Is this the first book you've written?

Bucky is my first book, but hopefully not my last. When my creaky bones will no longer let me cook, I hope to write much more.

Do you have an idea of what you'd like your follow-up book to be?

I'm seriously contemplating a cookbook, which has not appealed to me before this. I am also thinking about an advice book for teenage girls. Lots of ideas roll around in my head; I need to sit down and just start writing.

How long ago was Bucky born?

I wrote the first post in February of this year. It took me about 45 minutes. Bucky the book was published in July.

Do you have any idea who your Bucky readers are - do they skew older/younger?

I recently did a reading at Blossoming Hill Montessori School, where the ages ranged from 3-10. They all seemed to enjoy Bucky's adventures. Adults have also told me they enjoy the little Goofball. I think Bucky appeals best to kids 6 or 7 and older.

How has it been received?

Those who have read the book have enjoyed it. My goal now is to get this little book in front of a wider audience. We're trying to do this one local community at a time, and hope Bucky's message is picked up by chambers if commerces, schools, small businesses and such.

How did writing the book change you? Do you see yourself more as a writer now?

Oh, I think I'm still the shy goofball I've always been. I certainly don't think of myself as a writer; I don't think I've earned that honor. But one day, hopefully!

Chef signing a book for a young reader at Blossoming Hill Montessori.
What's your favorite thing to explore on the island when you have time?

I love the pace of the island, the serenity. I never tire of seeing how the light changes on the water, that's probably my favorite thing!

What's one thing you could say to readers to make them consider traveling to Orcas?

It's a tiny piece of paradise, so different from a usual tourist spot. If you ever wanted to be part of a small town surrounded by fantastic natural beauty, this is it! And even day trips are doable!

Are you still splitting your time between Seattle and Orcas?

I'm out on the island full-time in the summer. In the slower months, I come back to Seattle, as my hubby is here.

Any new culinary ventures up your sleeve?

Ha! I'm always thinking/plotting how to grow into a mini-empire. Stay tuned!

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