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Keeper. (BON APPETIT MARCH 2005)

October 21, 2010

Sometimes I find myself, like most people, overwhelmed by owning a lot of stuff. To keep that cluttered feeling at bay, a couple of times a year I do a little purging or, more likely, some creative reorganization. Books I’ve read are given away, clothes that are not appreciated get donated and the ever-growing collection of kitchen gadgets gets reduced. Among the pile that makes the cut year after year is a copy of Bon Appetit from way back March 2005. It’s funny because magazines are particularly vulnerable when it comes to filling the bin and most of the recipes are readily available online anyhow.

Yet, for five years, this issue has remained a part of  the shelf. I realize this is for several reasons, some practical and others sentimental. Back in 2005, my culinary experience was limited and I relied on recipes to tell me what was what. I purchased the magazine on the recommendation of a wonderful lady, Mrs. H, who had confidence enough to hire me to assist with her dinner parties. She did the majority of the planning and I would come in and finish things she had started or whip up dishes of her choice. She had asked me to make the paella and an ice cream cake from this mag and the mixture of success and failure I had with the recipes are lessons that stay with me to this day. Little things like; cut the ice cream cake, refreeze the slices, then serve it. Otherwise, it may taste great but it is probably melting all over the plate. Also; follow intuition more than you follow the recipe. So many factors go into cooking times and a food’s doneness that a recipe is just a guideline. Always leave plenty of extra time for prepping and finishing and make extra stock! I also remember learning, right then and there, the power of  lemon and the layer of brightness lemon juice adds to a finished dish. It’s not just garnish (as the recipe suggests) but a secret weapon.

Mrs. H was an incredibly supportive friend and client. After working with her for several months I made the decision to commit to culinary school. More than happily she wrote me a letter of recommendation which helped to seal the deal. In hindsight, attending the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health was one of the best decisions I have made to date. It paved one of my major paths and working in this field has allowed me to have a viable career while pursuing all of the things I love in life. This was something I wasn’t too sure would or could happen to me.

And I feel grateful, over five years later, as I sit flipping the pages of this same magazine, seeing my old notes in the margins and wondering when I’ll have a chance to make that coconut cream pie.

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