Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. My parents are both incredible cooks. Growing up, they both worked full time but somehow, almost every night, they would find the time to cook dinner together. My sister and I would pitch in and then we would all sit down to eat together. The kitchen was always the center of the house, the place where everyone gathered. I ate mainly Indian food growing up but my parents love to travel and exposed us to many different cuisines, always with a focus on fresh ingredients. I continue that tradition to this day on my blog where I focus on nutritious, tasty food with lots of flavor. I do like to splurge on occasion though because I love food and always want to try new dishes, so I believe in eating in moderation.
What's your least favorite food? There aren’t too many things I don’t like however I have to say that I’ve never really liked white chocolate.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year? It’s so hard to choose, I’ve been cooking up a storm lately! A few things that come to mind are sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage, red wine braised short ribs with celery root puree, Chesapeake Bay crab cakes with mango salsa and Sriracha aioli, and balsamic glazed baby back ribs.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster. A couple of years ago, I competed in the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger competition which was filmed by the Food Network. My burger had fried onion rings on it and I had to deep fry the onions on an outdoor grill. I had a hot oil thermometer in the oil but it wasn’t heating up fast enough so I closed the lid of the grill. A couple of minutes later, I noticed black smoke billowing out- turns out the rubber handle of the thermometer had melted off and caught on fire! When the Food Network cameramen saw the commotion, they came running over to see what was going on but fortunately, I extinguished it before they could catch any of it on film!
What is your idea of comfort food? A couple of different things- I’ve always loved pasta and would have to choose either macaroni and cheese or spaghetti carbonara with a poached egg on top. Also my mom’s food, especially her rice and kadhi, which is a spiced yogurt sauce. Growing up, she would always make that for me and my sister when we were sick so I guess that’s why it’s a comfort food for me.
Apron or no apron? No apron -- I just never got into the habit of wearing one, although I probably should!
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie? The scene in Spanglish where Adam Sandler, who plays a chef, makes an egg sandwich after an exhausting day at work. The dish is so simple (basically a BLT with an egg and cheese) yet it looks so delicious and who doesn’t love a runny egg on anything! The best part is that in the bonus features on the DVD, they show famed French Laundry Chef Thomas Keller coaching Sandler on the scene, teaching him how a professional chef would prepare the sandwich to make the scene look authentic. I was in culinary school when I saw the movie and found that part fascinating.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? My husband -- he’s my culinary muse and my biggest fan. Plus, he always loves everything I make!
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood c; alone when I’m trying to cook a quick meal and I’m pressed for time; with others when I’m hanging out with good friends or family.
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. a and c; I try to clean as I cook so that I don’t leave the kitchen a total mess but usually my husband does the final cleanup.