When did you start cooking?
Oh goodness. I'm not sure exactly, but before I can remember. I actually have this great picture my mother took of me, where I couldn't have been more than 2 years old, standing on a stool in our old kitchen in a onesie stirring a bowl of something or other with the most "Excuse me! Trying to be professional here!" look on my face. It's hilarious. I am going to have to find that picture and post it.
Who inspires you?
Over the years it has been the various picky eaters in my life. It originally started with my younger brother, or my learning-to-cook-guinea-pig, and now my husband and sister in law. They inspire me by challenging to break out of what I like to cook and eat (healthy/high fashion/exotic ingredients) and force me to come up with good recipes that meet their various picky needs. They'd eat and love Hamburger Helper and Cream of Whatever chicken and rice if you let them. Blech. I am challenged to produce recipes with basic ingredients they love, but break them out of the mold of over-processed and prepackaged food which is no good for the body.
If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?
Definitely Alton Brown. I don't watch Food Network anymore, but when I used to in college (when I had time, that is)I refused to watch anyone but him. I have never liked following recipes and am subsequently horrible at it. It's bad enough I have to remember to record what I put into things and follow recipes for my blog now. Alton Brown is all about knowing the specific properties of certain foods and how they react in cooking. I can then go out and use those ingredients, maximizing their potential, in any recipe rather than just blindly following one.
Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc.
I don't like baking so much... I have just started to this past year. I love cooking, but I am fickle. Haha. So right now my huge obsession is with braising. I am obsessed with braising any meat. That will rub off soon, I'm sure, then I will move onto something else.
What's one fear you have in the kitchen?
I read this every week and I always think, "What the heck would my answer be!??". I still don't have an answer. I love challenging myself. I have way to much pride and love to make recipes/whip up new things for company before trying them. Probably not the best idea, but I can't help it. I love cooking in bulk. Hence my catering company. :) I think my biggest fear, not so much in cooking, but in entertaining, is making things that people don't like. Only because I always ask "Is there anything you are allergic to/don't like?" before I have people over and keep grilling them about it. It never fails that I will bring up a dish or a meal or even make an appetizer and someone will say, oh yeah I don't eat such-and-such (a lot of times, olives, mushrooms, eggplant, etc). Yeah, thanks....:(
What's one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?
Definitely baking. I've always hated it and outsourced it. I hate the mess of it all, flour everywhere, sticky chocolate lining bowls, all the containers you need to prep. Oh, and the worst part is waiting forever for it to come out of the oven. I never saw it as hands-on enough. Well, the last straw was two years ago when our neighborhood had a cookie exchange. I had to make 12 dozen cookies and they turned out kind of blah. I'm sort of (lol - extremely) competitive and I HATED that mine weren't the best. SO I decided to start baking a lot more. I think I have come a long way and now, although I hate the time it takes, I LOVE baking and feel so rewarded when the baked goods come out of the oven fabulously.