Early Days I was about 10 years old when I cooked the first meal for my family. Oven-fried chicken, simple potatoes and carrots, with chocolate chip cookies as dessert. After the meal, my mother declared that the cook doesn’t have to deal with the aftermath of clean-up. Oooh, I thought: now that’s a good gig.
But I was no prodigy – I probably burned more cookies in my first 15 years than I ate. But it was fun – hanging out in the kitchen with friends, making a double recipe of cookie batter so that we could eat half of it raw. I had no thoughts to become a chef.
Starting to Study I studied English as my Major at University. I love to read: the chance to discuss, debate and get different insights into stories and authors was incredible. I had always loved books and writing. To this day, I refer to ideas researched and discussed in those courses – studying what I love has been formative.
Growing Restless Though I loved what I studied, I became increasingly disinterested in the routine of school. I wanted to see the world! My university bubble seemed to burst with this restlessness; in the Autumn of what would have been my fourth year, I left for The Netherlands. I became an au pair for a family with 3 young boys. It was in Holland that my passion for food emerged. It was my responsibility to fetch groceries and to cook for the family. I noticed the differences in the marketing of food in Europe compared to North America – the emphasis on market-fresh, wholesome, less-processed foods. Forget diet food – eat with family, eat with friends, and eat good, simple food. I felt that cooking was an extremely personal act and I liked that ability to express myself and to care for others – especially so now that I have my own family. Food and cooking to me became then – and remains still – visually beautiful and intrinsically symbolic.