It’s funny how we all come from different cultures, generations, and religions, yet we all share an incredible passion for food. Our collective obsession with food brings us together, while the dissimilarities in our lives makes each of us unique and interesting. It’s what I like most about food blogs - everyone has their own stories to tell, their own style of cooking, and areas of expertise.
I was delighted when Nicky and Oliver from Delicious Days recently introduced their food meme: The Cook Next Door! It’s an exciting chance to learn a bit more about our favourite food bloggers - who they are, and what’s brought them to where they are today.
Yesterday, I was thrilled when I was chosen by Chefdoc of A Perfect Pear to take part in the meme. So without further delay, here are a few (hopefully interesting) things about me.
What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
When I was 7, I would wake up at 6:30 on weekday mornings to make Pillsbury croissants for my family. After breakfast I would race to the bus stop to make sure I was the first in line for the school bus.
If not for my parents (my Dad, a passionate amateur cook, and Mom, an amateur baker) I would probably hate cooking. Twice a month in elementary school we spent our afternoons in Family Studies where our teacher constantly yelled at us. Imagine a female Gordon Ramsey overseeing a kitchen of 7 and 8 year olds!
Who had the most influence on your cooking?
I used to love watching my Dad cook. Every weekend, he’d make us congee, and every so often my parents would invite their friends and colleagues over for dinner, and my Dad would cook a plethora of fancy dishes.
More recently, I’ve taken my inspiration from Thomas Keller. I’ve never actually met him, nor eaten at his restaurants, but the thought that goes into each of his dishes, the levels of refinement, the balance of flavours, and creativity inspires me to do the same (albeit at a simpler level).
Do you have an old photo as “evidence” of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
I don’t have any childhood photos with me at the moment. But I as far as my first exposure to fine dining goes – it was back in the late 80’s when my family took our summer vacation in Quebec City. Following the advice of a guide book, my Mom made reservations at a restaurant with “impeccable food and service.” We arrived and dined at what I later learned was one of the city’s finest French restaurants. It must have been a weird sight – the waiters in their tuxedos amidst the grand décor, and us in our t-shirts and shorts (especially me wearing my neon yellow jammers, and Garfield polo shirt).
Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
What really makes my palms sweat is the mad rush that inevitably occurs the hour before my guests arrive for dinner. For whatever reason, my cooking always takes me well into the afternoon. With minutes to go I’ll scramble to clean and make my place look decent. I’ll usually resort to hiding everything by shoving all my dirty dishes and utensils into dishwasher, and everything else into the washing machine. So if you come over for dinner someday, please, please, don’t show up early!
What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
Most valued utensil: Stainless steel sieve, tamis, and cheesecloth.
The sieve is indispensable for getting smooth, consistent sauces and purées. The tamis (or drum sieve) helps me turn ground almonds and pistachios into powder-like nut flours. And the cheesecloth is invaluable for extracting fruit juices and for clarifying stock.
Biggest letdown: Digital thermometers
Very useful, but the ones I’ve had haven’t lasted very long. I’ve bought three in two years.
Appliance I would like: A Pacojet
Whoever buys me one gets 50 litres of sorbet and 500 macarons!
Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!
I like pouring milk over my ice cream. I love eating the icy shell that the milk forms on the surface, and then drinking the icy flavoured milk.
What are three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Dark Chocolate – preferably Valrhona Guanaja
Ataulfo Mangos – sweet, tender, and pulpless
Eggs – I don’t eat eggs by themselves, but they’re so versatile and invaluable in cooking.
Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!
Your favorite ice-cream: cookies and cream
You will probably never eat: prairie oysters (bull testicles)
Your own signature dish: french macarons
A Perfect Pear
Any signs that this passion is going slightly over the edge and may need intervention?
In the past year:
All-nighters spent cooking: 10
All-nighters spent working: 1
A La Cuisine!
Any embarrassing eating habits?
When I’m busy, I resort to eating soy sauce and rice, or soda crackers and water for dinner. I once served an elegant afternoon tea of apple frangipane, ginger ice cream, and Valrhona hot chocolate. Afterwards, I had a large can of Pringles for dinner.
Three people to pass it on to:
Keiko at Nordljus – who never ceases to impress me with her incredible desserts. She’s also taken some of the best food photos I’ve ever seen.
Louisa at Movable Feast – who’s successfully gone from being a reporter to a chef who's worked at some of the world’s finest restaurants.
Sarah at The Delicious Life – who writes wonderful restaurant reviews, and has a funny sense of humour.