When did you start cooking?
I really started cooking when I was in college. My mother is not much of a cook... She does make one seriously fabulous egg roll, but she never baked birthday cakes or honestly baked anything when I was growing up. When I moved out on my own, I really cultivated my love of cooking and developed my palate. That is what led me to Culinary School.
Who inspires you?
Since I didn't come from a family that cooked, I have no idea where I got my love of cooking and eating. So my inspiration has come from chefs in the limelight. I love Anthony Bourdain, as he is willing to try anything. I'd like to think I would try anything, but Bourdain is definitely more daring than myself when it comes to food!
If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?
Hands down, Thomas Keller. He is the Dan Marino, nay… the Michael Jordan of the fine dining world. I've made several of his recipes, and they are so delicate and amazing... just fantastic. He has this knack for taking the most basic ingredients and transforming it into edible art. We're planning a trip to the west coast next year and if I have any say, the timing will be dependent on getting rezzies at his restaurant French Laundry. My (very close) 2nd runner up would be Charlie Trotter.
Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc
Pastries. The fancier, the better. I also love to make breads... there is just nothing like a fresh loaf of bread, right from the oven. I enjoy cooking in general, but my food passion definitely lies in baking. Unfortunately, breads and pastries are so fattening, I try to limit what I bake. When I do bake something, I do either half or a quarter of the recipe.
Whats one fear you have in the kitchen?
Cutting myself. I was in my 2nd quarter of culinary school and cut the very tip of my finger off. It was in a particular class in which the chef instructor was adamant about no cursing in the classroom. I ran up to him and screamed... I cut the $h%#@ out of my finger. LOL! Needless to say, he wasn’t upset that I cursed in front of him. It was the most painful thing I'd ever imagined. It made me seriously doubt whether I had a high enough pain threshold to have children one day! :)
Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?
Broiling fish... I learned how to broil in a professional kitchen, under a salamander. It gets very hot, and broils extremely quickly. You basically broil for just a minute or two. Usually, you would cook 80% in an oven, and then just brown under the broiler. When I tried broiling fish at home, it was different. Sometimes the fish was raw inside, and beautifully browned outside. Other times my fish would be rubbery and have no browning. One time… I’m embarrassed to admit, I actually had flames shooting out of my oven! Apparently that was just a smidgen to long. After that episode, I avoided broiling for years. I've recently started experimenting again, and am proud to say I have mastered it. Now I prefer broiling my fish over any other cooking method.