What Matters: Dawn Hancock Talks Crying at ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ and the Sublime Act of Sauce-making

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Dawn Hancock is a fearless do-gooder who’s currently exploring her next act. Stay tuned.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Currently, I am enjoying making sauces and learning as much as I can about them, so much so, that I am considering it as my next career. I’ve always thought they should be their own food group, as they are the thing that can take an average dish into a sublime one. And when the style is paired with the perfect ingredients, the emotional response can be that much more impactful. Think of it as pairing the exact right typeface with your photo. When done well, they can sing in harmony. The same is true for food, and for me, sauce is the x-factor.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

I know this is not the first time I was creative, but it is the memory that comes to mind. I remember getting Legos in the mail from box tops that my mom had mailed away for (we probably had the sloppy joes on the back of the box that night for dinner). It was my first lego set, but most certainly was not my last. I fell in love from then on, constructing amazing block-filled worlds that felt uninhibited and no doubt was my first foray into design.

What is your biggest regret?

Reading this not only brings tears to my eyes but still feels like a punch in the gut 37 years later. My biggest regret is not truly understanding my mom was dying and wasting the few precious months we had after her diagnosis. Yes, I was only 10, but it is really, really hard to let it go, no matter how much therapy I’ve had.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

Time and distance.

What makes you cry?

What doesn’t, ha. I’m tough on the outside but a softie through and through. From commercials to a really deserving person winning $20k on Guy’s Grocery Games (hate all you want, I think he’s a solid human), I am kind of a sap. I especially love when a person overcomes something they didn’t think they could do or a generous soul helps someone in need.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

Sadly not long, if at all. Though I am happy to have found joy in the process, especially when cooking. I do enjoy watching someone taste something I’ve made (that I KNOW is really good). That will give me a lot of pride. Feeding people definitely brings me joy.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I do think there is an energy that is released when someone dies. Maybe it turns into a tree or an animal, or maybe it just is. I feel pretty strongly that my mom has been looking out for me since she died in 1984, though I have never had any “medium-like” experiences with her.

What do you hate most about yourself?

That I have such a hard time finding and sustaining happiness.

What do you love most about yourself?

That I can easily connect with someone.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

It always comes back to pizza. Is there anything better?