What's your least favorite food?
I do not like raisins or large amounts of celery (raw or cooked)... so needless to say, I'm not a fan of ants on a log!
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What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Hands down—braised English-cut short ribs with Ethiopian Berbere spices served alongside parsnip purée, a shaved carrot salad, and vibrant green harissa to cut the richness of the meat. I love experimenting with making my own spice blends and seasonings—you'll always find homemade berbere spice, Berbere seasoning, and curry powder in my larder.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
My biggest kitchen disaster happened when I moved into my most recent apartment and had to use an electric stove on a regular basis for the first time in my life. I took the pasta I was cooking off the burner to drain it, forgot to turn the burner off because I couldn't see that it was on and proceeded to put the empty pot back on the stove. Only when the pot was smoking and the bottom was singed black did I realize my mistake!
What is your idea of comfort food?
There is nothing more comforting than a perfectly roasted chicken. A couple years ago I challenged myself to make my dream roast chicken. It took many chickens but the result is the juiciest, most succulent meat covered by an ethereal veil of crispy skin. The key(s) to my success: liberally salting my chicken inside and out 1 to 2 days before I want to roast the chicken, taking the chicken out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking to get it to room temperature, roasting it at a high heat, and basting the bird every 10 to 15 minutes.
Apron or no apron?
No apron, but I always have a kitchen towel handy.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Any of the cooking scenes in Tortilla Soup. These scenes of Hector Elizondo's character preparing huge meals for his family embody two of the reasons I love cooking—taking raw ingredients and transforming them into something magical and being able to create good food and share it with the ones I love.
Who is someone you'd love to cook for, and why?
I would love to cook for my late grandma and grandpa. My grandpa died when I was 3 years old and my mom always says that he would get a kick out of me making a career out of food and cooking.