Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. When I was young my Hungarian grandmother would visit for a few weeks at a time usually once a year. During that visit, she would rarely stop cooking for an instant, making everything from scratch. Not only was I was completely mesmerized watching my exotic grandmother cook, all the food she made delightfully inspired me: from her blintzes, dumplings, soups, and pasta to her apricot-filled cookies. By fourth grade I took over making supper for my family, much to the delight of my mother. That became a quite an empowering experience, too. By senior year in high school, when I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year Award, I was really proud! The other awards I received were just not as significant to me. (When I went to college the next year, I was naively surprised to find you could not major in “home ec” at Brown!) Cooking has really taught me how to be both resourceful and creative.
On a personal sidenote, just being a finalist for a second time in this contest is quite thrilling (….and I can write that with a list of accolades from Fulbright scholar to keynote speaker at a United Nations-sponsored agri-tourism workshop in Belarus funded by the U.S. Embassy)!
What's your least favorite food? Pickled herring. Having grown up oceanside, I prefer my seafood fresh.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year? Actually, friends on this site! Seriously.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
When I was nine, I entered a summer cooking contest in Bristol, RI at the town common with my prize-looking peach shortcake. I could not have been more proud of my cake! I had made the whole thing myself while alone in the kitchen with no help from anyone. One judge enthusiastically took a first bite, only to grimace with a violently scrunched-up face of disapproval that I will never forget. I was mortified to learn that I had used salt in the recipe in place of caster sugar. I have not entered any cooking contests since then until this summer with Food52.
What is your idea of comfort food? Spaetzle!
Apron or no apron? No time for aprons these days. Before, because I was always afraid to ruin the ones I had in my precious collection, I never wore one. Today I do not even own one.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie? From recent movies it has to be from Julia and Julie, where Paul asks “What is it that you really like to do?” and Julia answers, “Eat.”
But the wedding cake scene in Like Water for Chocolate is pretty memorable, too. And I can’t forget about Mostly Martha.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? Jimmy Fallon…. I just love his thank you notes.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood I can also make a pretty happy sous chef, but otherwise I prefer to cook on my own.
When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean. I am completely capable of all of the above!