What got you into cooking?
All the women in my family loved to cook so I grew up surrounded by good food. I was always in the kitchen with my mother or grandmothers. Then my
first job was with Roppel's Catering in Louisville, KY where I worked with two chefs from The Culinary Institute of America. That experience introduced me to the idea of cooking professionally. It wasn't long before I headed up to NY to the CIA myself.
What do you do to stay educated on trends?
I keep my eyes open for trends that are applicable in the world of school foodservice, especially for ways to entice kids to eat the healthy foods schools are serving.
I also tend to be curious about ethnic and regional foods. I love to explore "mom and pop" places. The Twin Cities and surrounding areas have a diverse population which leads to rich food opportunities. When I travel I seek out local restaurants that reflect the area culture or people settled there. I would rather take a chance on a new food than order something familiar I already know I like. I laugh and say it is my professional responsibility!
What was the most fun part and/or proudest moment of your career?
When I started my position as Corporate Chef for General Mills, one of my first trips was to the CIA at Greystone (where I had longed to visit) for a customer
presentation. I got to do prep in the beautiful kitchens there complete with a view of vineyards. I was busy melting butter and marshmallows to stir into Cheerios for cereal bars when I stopped, took a deep breath and looked around me. I was surrounded by extremely serious pastry students scurrying around preparing elaborate French pastries and here I was making cereal bars. I had to laugh. My dream had come true but in a completely unexpected way which made it all the more fun. I remember saying a silent prayer that all those students would find a job they loved as much as I loved mine.
What food(s) do you crave?
I crave the foods from my childhood made by the women I loved my mother's meatloaf, my grandmother's dumplings, my Aunt Barb's frozen fruit salad. I
have the recipes but they don't taste the same when I make them. Maybe its the "childhood" that is the missing ingredient!