My earliest memories of food and cooking were at my grandmother’s farm in Northern California. Nestled among vineyards and orchards, her farm was where I learned to cook. A farmer’s daughter from the San Joaquin Valley, she was an old style cook who preferred taste, smell, and touch to rigid measurements and recipes. Canning, drying, baking, I spent my childhood at my grandmother’s side in the kitchen and in the garden. People and food make some of the best memories.
As an undergraduate at UCLA, I pursued my interests in cookery by working at Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills. As a cooking skills instructor, I learned to adapt products to a customer’s kitchen and to their cooking needs. While at UCLA, my fraternity encouraged – more like drafted – me to organize meals on weekends and at tailgates. Without training, I had the job of feeding 50 young men, twice a day, five days a week. There is no education like doing.
One year later, I joined The Kitchen for Exploring Foods in Pasadena and began professional training as a chef and caterer. From Peggy Dark, I improved my skills in food presentation and refinement in menu development and event planning. Taste has two components: it is an act of eating and the impression of what is being consumed. I left The Kitchen in 2015 to grow my own catering and cooking class business.
At its most basic level, food is sustenance: it is necessary for survival. But when food is well prepared and based around an experience of sharing among friends and family, food then has the power to make memories. Good food evokes emotion and cooking is a joy because it makes people happy.