Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Harriet van Horne
Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to be going your way and every step you take seems to lead you in the wrong direction? What did you do to relieve the weight of whatever was pulling you down? Well if you were crazy like me, you’d bake over two hundred cookies and give them away through the hallways of your High School until huge football players would meekly approach you and ask if they could have one of your now notorious sweets. There is a power in feeding someone.
I have always loved to cook and would never have dreamed of doing it professionally until it fell so naturally into my lap. Since graduation from college at NYU, I have been acting professionally and supporting myself mainly with catering when I was not away doing regional theater. It was a good mix because I could never be what so many feared: a starving artist. During this time I cooked at my happiest moments, planning coursed dinners for my cast mates’ birthdays and other cast meals simply to socialize. When I returned to New York, I would be back hitting auditions and packing myself simple lunches to sustain myself throughout an entire day of seeking employment. When I was working, I was happy, when I wasn’t; I ate bagels off the street carts and dreamed up ways of increasing my job success.
One morning around my twenty-fifth birthday I realized that this pattern was not sustainable. I knew I had to make a change. Over the years, I had kept several clients whom I initially bartended for and later came to befriend. Speaking with me between lulls of mixing drinks, they discovered my joys in the kitchen. It was only a natural progression before they asked me to cook a dinner party or two. Then as my successes at planning these events grew, friends began to call on me when clients of their own needed a chef and soon I was the go-to girl for any small catered affair within my circle. Being in control instead of catering someone else’s food was exhilarating. I began saying “yes.”
Can you plan a meal for a party of eight and cook it in my new kitchen?
Can you make vegan bread and risotto, and keep everything at the correct temperature while you help bartend and waitress?
Can you do a tea service for a group of Pakistanis serving traditional Chai?
Um…yes (the pause being the realization that I would have some pretty strong critics tasting my tea and wondering how I was going to transport tea for forty guests from Queens to Manhattan, by myself)
But for the first time, I was having a blast. I hadn’t felt such a performance high since I was onstage. I began to cook.
Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education. ~Mark Twain
Now, I knew I had some growing to do and not every client was going to be willing to foot the bill as I learned new techniques while on the clock in their kitchen. Thus I made the decision to attend culinary school–a two-fold decision which included opening my palate to everything once more (including red meat and pork which I had given up for the last eight years) and finding a school I could attend while still auditioning and working at night. The school was easy. One visit to ICE (the Institute of Culinary Education) and I was hooked. It was like every surface breathed the excitement of food yet sparkled with immaculate cleanliness. The school was a foody’s haven. As for the meat; I decided the only way I could learn to cook it was if I started eating it again. So, days after my decision, I began sampling veal, sirloin, and lamb once more. It was delicious and just the boost my anemic body needed to get going. And thus with my new knives, easily the best present of my adult life, I began.
There is no love sincerer than the love of food. ~George Bernard Shaw, “The Revolutionist’s Handbook,” Man and Superman
I see a strong need to reach out to would-be-recreational chefs in their twenties to early thirties. This is a group that has a sincere interest in food but has not been targeted until recently by the food industry. These men and women have a sincere desire to entertain at home but want to do it in new ways and not slave in the kitchen for the lavish spreads of their parents. I have many clients in my age group who want to do these dinner parties but are lacking in the resources for how to pull them off effectively and still wow their guests while they are coming from work and trying to get ready for the event. Having worked over eight jobs simultaneously for the last five years while still seeking additional employment, I know how to cook and multitask. I want to show young professionals how to entertain easily in the comfort of their own homes. Above all, I want to share my love of food and cuisine with others.