Why Savor the Salt?
Salt adds flavor . . . but it should be savored and used sparingly. Besides – life needs to be savored – all the time!
Why do you cook?
Life is far too short to eat boring and tasteless food. I cook – every day. I take flavor risks in the kitchen. I create brilliant meals and, I’ll admit, my share of blunders I won’t cook again anytime soon. But cooking will always be my joy. I think everyone should have fun in the kitchen!
When did you pick up your wooden spoon?
My earliest childhood memories of cooking are distinct – standing at my grandmother’s side while she washed and salted peeled potatoes, gathering baskets of strawberries with my cousins for fresh preserves, chopping vegetables with my mom for stir fry and listening to the sizzle of steaks on the grill with my dad. As a teenager, I baked desserts and whipped up late night meals for my future husband and friends. My penchant for all things tasty evolved from there and I’ve never stopped learning. To read more about the food memories that shaped my life, check out By the Kitchen Fire.
Are you professionally trained?
I’m a self-trained chef who has never worked in a restaurant, though I’d love to someday. I study what I eat and try to recreate dishes I love. When I travel, I do my homework on regional foods. That means mapping out restaurants, food stands and farmers markets I want to visit. I feel privileged to have met and learned from many great chefs and home cooks around the world.
So glad you asked! Yes, I won the grand prize, two gold medals and one silver medal in the U.S. Chef’s Open, an international cooking competition that took place in Atlanta years before chefs were stars and competitive cooking on television became fit for prime time. I did appear on network television programs across the southeast and was featured regularly as an entertaining expert and self-taught chef. It was a blast! Someday I’ll post the clips on YouTube – if I’m brave enough.
Tell me about your books and food writing.
After I won the U.S. Chef’s Open, I co-authored the cookbook The Holiday Feast with my mom, Marilyn Dumon. (She’s long been my inspiration for trying new tastes and flavor profiles with her “at least one new recipe a week” policy.) When our book came out, I also wrote Pasta Pronto!, my foray into bachelor-tested substitution-is-okay-as-long-as-proportions-stay-the-same cooking. Both books were produced by small presses and sold throughout the country in gourmet shops, festivals and bookstores. My food writing articles have been featured in many magazines. My newest book is Food Presentation: Tips and Inspiration by Schiffer Publishing.
The Holiday Feast and Pasta Pronto! are considered out of print but are available from collectible book dealers on the web. Food Presentation: Tips and Inspiration is available through your local bookseller, Schiffer Publishing, Amazon.com and other online booksellers.
So why do you blog?
A few years ago, the word “blog” was proclaimed the word of the year by Merriam Webster. Blogs were relatively new, so I dabbled. I posted. I dipped my toes in the food blog waters and told a few friends what I was doing. I wasn’t concerned about building readership, but I was hooked and I developed many creative blogs that I’ve focused here in Savor the Salt.
For me, blogging feeds my need to write – and eat – and stay in touch — every day no matter where I am. And since my brilliant husband Ed keeps us on the move in the US and abroad, our kitchen is an ever changing entity that makes cooking a daily challenge. In San Jose, my kitchen was a microwave and electric skillet in a tiny hotel room. I cooked for us from a turn-of-the-century converted jailhouse and court room in London and an 1830s apartment in Modena, Italy. Our life since high school (yes, we were sweethearts and prom dates) has always been a culinary adventure. And our two sons, Mike and Nick, have learned to enjoy the ride with a slew of “new food awards” to prove it.
Call Savor the Salt a food diary or a photo album to record the cool stuff in my life. I love sharing what I discover and cook with my friends and family – no matter where I am in the world. Start savoring with me!