I love food. I’ve always loved food. And I have known that since I was a child, growing up in Alabama.
My mother couldn’t stand to cook, so we had wonderful women who cooked for us: Rachel and Easter. They made amazing Southern food and (thanks to my paternal grandmother) amazing Ashkenazi food, too. (Yes, there are Jews in Alabama.)
One of the things about growing up in the South is that you learn the benefits of entertaining “early and often.” Much like in Jewish culture, there is food for everything. You don’t let people come to your house without offering them something to eat or drink, and you wouldn’t think about arriving to someone else’s empty handed.
Food is love. Food is nurture. Food is power.
At age 8, I baked my first birthday cake for my father. (Actually, my first two cakes, as the first one fell apart…) At age 9, I planned my first menu. (It was Thanksgiving, my mother saved the menu, and now I have it.)
I’m not one of those kids who cooked all the time, but I always had my eyes open and asked a lot of questions of those around me who made great food, set a great table, threw great parties.
I eventually pursued various careers: politics; retail; TV & film…
Nothing was as fulfilling as cooking and entertaining.
But I was trying to change the world, not be a housewife, so I didn’t consider a cooking career until after I married--and, oddly enough, became a housewife.
Friends encouraged me. I took a job at The New School of Cooking just as Anne Smith was opening it. I studied the Professional Series for Cooking and Baking to fill in the gaps of my repertoire…I loved it! I finished the program in 2001.
I became a caterer and started renting space in a synagogue kitchen in 2002 and was obligated to cook Kosher. I learned the ins and outs of Kashrut. While doing this, I discovered that the same techniques and flavor profiles I'd learned in the non-Kosher world could be applied to the Kosher world (within reason) and make it taste really good. I could also use higher quality ingredients than the ones I had previously seen in traditional Kosher establishments.
I developed a following. I kept cooking.
I continue to challenge myself. Gluten Free, Sugar Free…it is all coming along. I made a cake the other day that was Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free…I looked at my husband as it went into the oven and said, “I don’t know what that is, but it is NOT cake.” When it came out, we were both blown away by how successful it was! Lots of people have dietary restrictions, and I want them to feel nurtured by their food as well.