cheryl_velveetaWhen I was 5-years-old, my little sister said I was the best toast maker in the whole world. We’d get up on Saturday mornings before our parents to watch cartoons and eat toast. I’d make two pieces at a time. Then I’d make two more, and so on… I started making toast and I’ve never stopped cooking. I’m fortunate to come from generations of good cooks and my family has always gathered in and around the kitchen. My mom is extremely food-talented, as recipe-obsessed as I am – and my first teacher.

When I was 25, I moved to Santa Fe. Taking a breather from my first couple of whirlwind years as an advertising exec, a different life was on the horizon. Did I make a mistake in my career choice of advertising by not going to cooking school? No. Luckily I had the opportunity to find out. A pretty well-known English chef let me cook in his restaurant when no one else would. Chefs can be kind of snobby, you know. I thought this guy was nice enough to let me have a shot; turns out he just liked women. But while he focused those energies on the pretty little sous chef, I was able to soak in cooking techniques like a sponge. I worked for him for free for one week. That was the deal. If I could keep up and liked it well enough, he’d start paying me. I was there for three years.

During my time in Santa Fe, I started a small marketing firm with my business partner and friend, Molly. While we were in start-up mode, I split my time between that and cooking. I took the position of being the head cook at the pool grill of a swanky Santa Fe resort one summer and took my laptop every day to work on things between orders. One day she told me I had to choose between cooking and marketing. I chose marketing. Cooking professionally was ruining my passion for cooking at home. I know why chefs eat cereal when they’re off. Nonetheless, I continued to cook for four chefs in three different restaurants on holidays, weekends and special events for almost nine years. Chefs would call me when a party of vegans had a reservation and they didn’t want to create a special menu, or the governor was having a private party at the mansion and needed help prepping food. I helped cook for celebrities during their visits to Santa Fe. I remember making a salad for Lorenzo Lamas one Saturday night, and I made nachos for Bobby Flay. When I saw who the nachose were for, I made them again.

So I’m not a professional chef by anyone’s standards. But I’ve definitely done some time.

ABOUT THE RECIPES: The collection of recipes on this blog is a combination of my own original recipes, tweaked recipes from others who had a better idea than execution, guest recipes from my friends and family, and sometimes I’ll include basic cooking methods, ideas and thoughts on food rather than explicit recipes. My measurements aren’t always exact, and I don’t always write things down as I go along. So this blog is probably best suited for people who already have some cooking knowledge. I’ll give credit where credit is due, as often as I can when the recipe isn’t mine. Often times I have an original thought, only to find out 50 other people have had it, too. So I end up comparing their ideas to mine and developing a recipe that I believe works and tastes the best – adding as much food value as possible. Enjoy!

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