Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. My mother is a wonderful cook. When I was a kid, she made so many things from scratch and (intentionally or not) got me to be very passionate about food and eating. I was definitely the only kid in elementary school with a deep love of cilantro (which could often be found in various items in my lunchbox). What I love most is the interest and care she takes in her food and cooking - she grows a lot of her own fruits and veggies. I love that we now share this common interest - I want to do all the things she does!
What's your least favorite food? I really want to like olives, but I'm just not a fan. Trying to work on that.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year? I've been experimenting with a lot of pies this year. The most surprising success was Chocolate Chip Cookie pie. It sounds like a toothache...but boy, was it good.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster. I hate to share this (again)...but it's so bad I have to. I decided when I was 16 that I wanted to go to culinary school, so with very little knowledge I dove into the kitchen and made a whole host of really terrible things. I always left a big mess behind, and my parents both hated it. One time in particular, I decided I wanted to make candy, so I melted a few different types of chocolate in these little glass bowls my mom used for prep work. The bowls were not meant to be heated, but I kept zapping them in the microwave over and over. I got distracted and put a bowl back into the microwave with the little plastic spatula I was using to stir still inside. The spatula caught on fire inside the microwave. I managed to put out the fire and move the now very hot bowl to the counter. I took a deep breath, thinking I'd avoided disaster, and suddenly the bowl exploded. Glass and chocolate went everywhere! The worst part was the smell...burnt plastic and chocolate lingered in the air for days.
What is your idea of comfort food? Pasta, soup, or poached eggs.
Apron or no apron? No apron, unless I'm wearing something fancy.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie? There's a great scene in this Japanese movie Tampopo. A woman is trying to open a successful ramen shop, and there is a scene where a "noodle elder" teaches a young man how to properly eat ramen. My favorite part is when he tells him to look at the pork lovingly before taking the first bite.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? My grandma. She loves food and is always so impressed with anything I make. Plus, I love to cook in her kitchen.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood. I love to cook with other people if the kitchen is big enough. In my tiny kitchen...forget it!
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 clean as I cook or else I run out of tools and pans!
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.