Through my many years of teaching I’ve observed time and again the many ways learning to cook and bake enriches lives - from a much needed, meditative break from the weekly grind, to pursuing something fun, to exploring different cultures, and to supplement one's emotional healing through the act of physical care. And most of all, it’s a time for connection with oneself, friends and family, and even to me. Mindful cooking is a respite.
My enthusiasm for fresh and organic food as a child on my family's farm in Loudoun County, Virginia, where I began cooking at age four with my grandparents. My grandmother, Eloise, taught me to bake with intuition and discernment. My grandfather would invite the community over for butchering in the winter, canning in the summer, and these roots of connections began to solidify. My family instilled this appreciation of food, family, and friends. I was constantly experimenting in the kitchen, where my mom would often say, "Don't blame me if this doesn't turn out - you aren't following a recipe". This is when I began my love of improvisational baking. In high school, I began working at a local bakery, but never considered this as a career choice. Slowly I realized this was the ONLY career choice. I apprenticed in Washington, D.C., before moving to New York, where I worked at the Four Seasons Hotel, the Plaza Hotel, Torre di Pisa, and other celebrated New York City restaurants.
In 1996 I transitioned to teaching and shared my experience as a cooking and baking instructor for professional and recreational programs at the Institute of Culinary Education (ice.edu), while also teaching private cooking classes, and speaking about cooking and creativity and how to bring it to the workplace. My book, Making Artisan Cheesecake was published in 2015, Quarto Books and I have been a contributor to numerous cookbooks.
I am currently working on my next book, Rule Breaking Baking - Baking without Recipes. I continue to make connections through food, break rules, push boundaries and not use recipes in cooking and often in baking.