Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. Starting at the age of 13, I spent a few weeks each summer visiting my cousin Trisha and her family in Sacramento. She introduced me to a whole new world of food each visit -- things that I had never tasted nor heard of growing up on a small farm in Illinois. Highlights included trying sushi and Thai food for the first time and having an amazing meal and flight of wine (for lunch, no less!) at the Culinary Institute of America when I was older. I remember what a revelation her homemade pesto, made with basil from her garden, was upon first bite. I look forward to making her pesto every summer.
Shop the Story
What's your least favorite kitchen task? Unloading the dishwasher, followed closely by cleaning out the refrigerator.
Your favorite kitchen tool? Lately it’s been my Kuhn Rikon serrated peeler. It makes peeling a 5-pound bag of potatoes a breeze.
What is your idea of comfort food? It’s hard to beat roasted chicken with mashed potatoes any time of year. And I’ll always have a weakness for a good burger and fries.
What is your greatest kitchen disaster? I’ll go with the time two years ago that I decided to make English toffee late at night, determined to be one of those people who can pull off homemade Christmas candy for lots of friends and co-workers. Batch after batch failed (sometimes the butter separated from the toffee; other times the chocolate wouldn’t set up right). I consulted multiple recipes trying to troubleshoot. It took me two pounds of butter and many dollars of wasted chocolate to get it right. I finally got the perfect batch, and I took note of everything I did. Sadly, when I went to make the same toffee this past December, it was a big flop. I’ve decided that toffee isn’t my thing.
Photo of EmilyC by Marian Lozano; photo of toast by James Ransom