I was thirteen years old, and I had never been to a restaurant. Not a real one. A few greasy spoons and gas station hoagies. But never a real restaurant. That night I donned a bright blue dress, picked from the ‘free’ bin of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, and a pair of fake pearl earrings borrowed from Mom’s jewelry box. My older siblings were home for a visit, and we were all going out. As I came down the stairs, my Dad said he’d never seen my dark eyes so sparkly. It was the anticipation. It lasted the whole hour-ride there, from the woods to the city, and through the whole experience. We were seated, ordered from a real menu of many choices. I was far outside my normal experience. Everything was so beautiful, the atmosphere so welcoming. I felt Loved. Served. Special.
I went to sleep that night reflecting on the experience, feeling nearly like a princess. Until I woke up in a cold sweat, and threw up my Ponderosa ribeye and whatever else I’d eaten that evening. I’ll never know if it was food poisoning or simply my stomach rejecting all the fat and salt. Raised on whatever was shot in the woods or hooked in the river, and vegetables from the dirt of our garden, my body was not used to such richness. No wonder we never went out.
I was sixteen years old, and I taught myself to cook. My first dish was a souffle, made from a recipe in a 1950’s Good Housekeeping cookbook. From that moment, food was magical. Like alchemy. No more of my Mom’s plain macaroni with stewed tomatoes, her boiled chicken legs (am I supposed to eat this skin?) and unseasoned, cooked-till-they’re-dead vegetables. I had discovered a whole new world, and I was destined to experience it to the full.
In the intervening years, I had several mini-careers, across different fields. Throughout those years, what remains in peoples’ minds is that I made them feel Welcomed. Loved. Served. Satiated. Special – always through food and hospitality. In 2009, as the economy was crashing, my husband and I finally opened a restaurant. Three years later, we closed it. We then went into hospitality management together, ending that life season by travelling across Europe for a few months. Since 2018, I’ve been back in the culinary world, rounding out my wheelhouse as a personal chef and culinary instructor, constantly learning, and loving every minute of it.
My passion is to live a lifestyle of service to others through food and hospitality. To create environments and events around food which leave people feeling welcome, temporarily transported in a suspension of the pressures of daily life. That they might find a moment of refreshment and joy. That they might feel Welcomed. Loved. Served. Special. So that they can wake up (hopefully not after having thrown up) to begin anew what they have been called to do in their daily lives.