I’m thrilled to be a part of the Next Top Blogger challenge. When I initially read about the 10 phases of the competition, I thought the first post was just something that had to be cranked out before getting to the fun part. But now I’m glad I didn’t just write it off (sorry – I couldn’t resist the pun….). Between work and family, I don’t often have time for deep thoughts about my life, career and philosophy, but this turned out to be a great time for it. I can hardly believe that I have been cooking professionally for 17+ years. The early phases of cooking school, restaurants, and then fancy dinner parties for private clients were all very important, but now, as a cooking instructor, food blogger, and private chef for several very different families, I finally feel like I can put food in its proper place.
Every day I see firsthand how healthy, home cooked meals positively affect people, no matter how different they are from each other. Sharing meals together allows us to slow down and connect with each other in a way that is rapidly becoming a lost art. It’s amazing how fast even total strangers can relax and connect over the course of a cooking class and dinner. As a teacher I love to see that happen and I try to give my students the knowledge and confidence to re-create that experience with their own friends and families. Everyone deserves to be nourished and eat good food, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether I am cooking for my family, my clients or my students I try to put my heart and soul into it. For me, it’s not just about the food, it’s about understanding that a meal can give you just about anything you need – sustenance, fun, health, therapy, relaxation, love – even if the process entails a bit of blood, sweat and tears (especially when the “basics” class works on knife skills with a couple pounds of onions!).
I started blogging a couple of years ago as a way to reach more people. I want to show that tasty, good lookin’ food does not require slaving away over a hot stove all day and night. Nor does it mean running out to the store and buying exotic spices that you will only use once or ordering the latest kitchen gadget from Williams Sonoma. Believe me, I also felt a powerful urge to get the Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Immersion Circulator and the brand new and potentially indispensable Smoking GunTM now haunts my dreams. But more often it’s the simple things that you really need – ask anyone from that “basics” class about the Onion Goggles. Or take simple roasted cauliflower as an example. Look at a whole, raw head of cauliflower in the market – looks pretty bland and unappealing, doesn’t it? But if you cut it into florets and roast with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, it’s transformed into an unbelievably delicious side dash or snack. When someone asks what I did to make it taste so good, I almost feel guilty telling them how simple it is to make.
I am not a molecular gastronomist, mixologist or any kind of food extremist. In my blog I try to share the tips and techniques that I have learned over the years to make cooking for yourself and your family feasible. In addition to that, I have a secret. In my dreams, in my second career, I am a writer of novels. Not bodice rippers! But something, I don’t know, interesting and well-researched that might earn me a few minutes on NPR. I thought that writing a blog would help me tap into that creative process. It has done more than that and taken me into a different direction. It’s helped me discover a different voice, one that I like more than formal prose. Blogging makes me feel that I am not just a ‘cook’ and not even just a “writer”, but something greater than the sum of those parts. I am overjoyed when someone tells me that they made my recipe successfully. Cooking is synonymous with the good things in this life and that is something that I try to spread and share with others. So doing this:
And doing this:
Result in the same thing. Pure Contentment.