Food is a common link I like to use to connect people. Spend even a little time with me, and soon you will find yourself seated at a table somewhere, across from a stranger or two, learning about one another over a meal. It may be one of my parties—for years I have gathered friends for both Summer and Winter Solstice parties, or it may be brunch, lunch or dinner at one of my favorite Chicago restaurants. That’s what I do. I love to cook, but mostly I’m driven to connect people with food, and to food.
Born in Nebraska and growing up in Metropolitan Detroit, my chores included certain garden responsibilities, and by fifth grade I was in charge of preparing the family dinner once a week. First menu? Hot dogs, sauerkraut and green beans. At home, we baked everything from scratch at a time when “homemade” was becoming an anomaly—cookies, cakes and bread fresh from the oven. During the summer, most of the produce we ate came from our own garden, and my parents taught me how to over winter apples from a local orchard where we picked our own. Food played a part in my early employment as well. In high school and again in college I worked at ice cream stores, terrified of providing table service in a more traditional restaurant. While at University of Michigan, where I studied history and worked at the Michigan Daily, I spent free hours pouring through the recipes in Bon Appetit, imagining the day I could afford a kitchen and the ingredients. My course was set the day my vegetarian roommate offered to buy any ingredients I wanted, if only I’d cook for her. Wow, I was a lucky girl!
Ever since, I surround myself with people who are willing to eat if I will cook, and talk as often as I can with the chefs, cooks and others who bring food to table. And yes, today I live in a house I designed with a small, efficient kitchen, capable of turning out food for a crowd. Although I do recreate old favorite recipes, my tastes have changed a bit since those early hot dog meals. My curiosity about ingredients and different cultures inspires my menus now. But, perhaps in part due to my early education, I favor fresh ingredients—especially organics and biodynamic Slow Food. My house was also designed to handle entertaining with ease, and I do whenever I can manage to get friend’s calendars to jive. Connecting people is always what’s most important to me.