Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. My grandmother cooked and baked constantly for her hotel guests in the summer. We ate all of our meals with her the rest of the year, as well. I helped her mix, stir, make applesauce, knead bread, start soups, and bake cakes and pies. Cooking has been a huge part of my life since I was a child.
Working in the hotel kitchen with my family (my mom was in charge of cold appetizers and salads; my dad took on the entrées and desserts) instilled a great work ethic in my sisters and me -- especially when it came to preparing, assembling, serving, and cooking for crowds. Hearing my mom, dad, and grandmother receive thanks from our guests taught me that it's a real blessing to cook and share food with friends and family.
What's your least favorite kitchen task? I am a messy cook, so cleaning up after myself is depressing. I try my best to clean as I go, but sometimes it's just not happening.
Your favorite kitchen tool? I like my Microplane, but the large metal spatula in the photo above is a tool my dad loved -- for that reason, I use it often.