Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. I once tried to make mu shu pork -- pancakes and all -- when I was about 14. The recipe was 3 pages long. My mom tried to convince me to try another recipe, but I wouldn't have it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! Many hours later, dinner was served. It was alright -- but very meh. I would have preferred if it was downright awful, instead of just boring, which hinted at my future decision to pursue cooking professionally. I've now graduated from culinary school, and I work as a personal chef specializing in gluten-free, vegetable-heavy meals -- kind of like that recipe I submitted!
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What's your least favorite kitchen task? My least favorite task is shucking chickpeas! I did it for hours once at work. I talk to myself a lot when I'm cooking, and I couldn't even keep that up because it was so miserable -- and I think I'm pretty entertaining! At home, I really don't like deep-frying because it makes such a mess.
Your favorite kitchen tool? My favorite kitchen tool is either my knife or my VitaMix (I'm spoiled!). Basically, I love anything sharp and efficient!
What is your greatest kitchen disaster? See the first question. That sense of frustration is still so fresh, even 14 years later. Word to the wise: Read the recipe all the way through before starting it! You might even learn something new. On one of the mu shu pork recipe's 3 pages, it described how to make brushes from scallions -- totally useless, but pretty cool!
What's your favorite summer soup? Tell us in the comments!
Corn soup photo by Mark Weinberg, headshot by Colleen Rose, chocolate milk by Cara Eisenpress, all others by James Ransom
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).