Friday, August 17, 2012

My Culinary Inspiration


My Grandparents and I at my CIA Associates Graduation!

The recipe was top secret; nobody could know. I would always start with a huge plastic bowl of water. Then my “expertly trained” chef hands would sprinkle in a little dried parsley flakes, paprika, and cinnamon, add a dash of poppy seeds, swirl in some soy sauce, and garnish with some rainbow ice cream “jimmies”. Sound unusual? Well, at the age of eight, this Magic Potion Soup was my signature dish in the Five-Star Five-Diamond restaurant that was my Grandmother’s kitchen.


                                         Curious Little Me ;)


My Memom was one of the first people I can remember cooking with. Many have a charming story about their grandmother, but unlike the rest, I have her to thank for my career, both at this very moment and in the future. When I was young, my mother would drop me off at Memom’s house to spend the day while she went to work. I still remember sneaking pieces of whole wheat bread from her kitchen counter, and the way her scrambled eggs could not be duplicated (even if one used the same eggs in the same pan). There is a special food attached to each memory I can recall spending with her, and each one is still alive in my mind today.

As I progressed through Middle School and High School, I would make weekend trips to Memom’s house to cook with her. Each time she would teach me how to make the specialties that my big Italian family loved, (such as her infamous homemade pizza, pepperoni bread, mocha log cookies, and biscotti) while gossiping about the latest Giada episode on the Food Network.

I know now that my grandmother saw something in me over those years. In fact, she was the one who scheduled the bus tour to visit the prestigious Culinary Institute of America when I was in eighth grade. Up until that point, I had never considered turning my food obsession into a career.

It only took one tour to convince me that Hyde Park, NY was where I wanted to spend my college career. I was completely mesmerized by this magical world where students spent their entire day studying and working with food. If only I could be one of those girls wearing her chef whites, knife roll slung over her shoulder and chef toque in hand as she hurried to class! The New York campus seemed to teem with the excitement of these students, and I was drawn to the fact that I could simultaneously foster a college experience and receive the World’s best culinary education.

Working Hard During My Associates Degrees.. 
Living the DREAM!

Now, after spending three years at the CIA, I am living my dream. I still receive calls from my grandmother every week, inquiring about buttercream, baking times, and whether or not she should chill that rose wine she bought yesterday. The tables have turned and I am teaching her! In the end, no matter where I go in my life or my career, my heart will always belong at my Memom’s counter, making my signature Magic Potion Soup.

The Beautiful Julia Child

Before I go, I must pay homage to a culinary great, who had a birthday several days ago. Julia Child played an important role in the lives of many culinary and baking and pastry chef's lives, and if it were not for her, the popularity of classical French cooking certainly would not have made it into the kitchens of so many Americans. Her liveliness, talent, and ability to accept her mistakes with a smile and a laugh is to be admired by many.

Take some time out to thank the people in your life who have gotten you where you are today. They make and shape us into who we are!!!

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)

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