Hi and welcome to Food Style Uncorked.
Celebrating food that nurtures our soles and our bodies begins with the eyes. We eat with our eyes first. How many times have you heard someone use this quote from Apicius, an extravagant foodie of Roman times! Our eyes are visually intrigued by color, textures, and how food is presented. Whether we know how something tastes, our senses are delighted and perceive what’s on our plate as something we should pick up a utensil and try.
Arrange your food like a masterpiece on your plate, and yes, even your vegetables! Play with your food, making broccoli trees stand up in the forest of dissimilar vegetables, next to the island of fish, and zestfully unravel your creativity and begin exploring the world of FoodStyleUncorked.
With my travels abroad, I have incorporated much of my food experience with curating simple, clean, flavorful recipes for weeknight meals as a trained chef and graduate from an affiliate school of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
Food Style Uncorked is all about 5:2. Five days of simple easy to prepare, clean, flavorful meals during the week and two days of indulgent foods in moderation. Creating balanced layers of flavor and taking time to enjoy the gastronome culinary cooking experience.
During the summers growing up, my family and I would travel to my grandparents’ farm in Illinois. During these times, I grew a love early on for the garden variety of vegetables. Just as the sun rose and before the dew had evaporated, we would walk to the garden and pick vegetables and fruits from the family’s substantially rich gardens. We would pick pumpkin blossoms for frying after grandma dredged them in flour, egg wash, and salted cracker crumbs for breakfast. The tomatoes we picked were dense, with deep, bright colors, and had a sweet earthy smell. Compost soil grew supremely oversized zucchini, which lasted long after picking them because of their thick skin. We baked zucchini bread, muffins, grilled and sautéed them. Carrots were a vibrant rainbow of colors. The garden was the Willie Wonka of gardens, greener than green, more yellow than yellow, and redder than red! Eggs were gathered from the chickens in the barn for breakfast. We loaded up the pickup truck during harvest season, and sometimes the red Cadillac, bringing hearty lunches to my grandfather and uncles. It was a time of simplicity and hard work.
We would walk across the street to pick ripened sweet corn in the early morning. On a windy day, you could hear the corn rustle, the stalks touching one another as they swayed. As you near the corn, you could smell the unmistakable fragrant sweetness, and a few other smells, which I am pretty sure came from the neighboring cow pasture. Before picking the corn, we would pull back part of the corn husk and puncture a corn kernel with a fingernail. If creamy white milk emerged – the corn was ready! Grandma would begin grasping one ear of corn at the stalk base, pulling down, giving a righteous twist, releasing the corn from the stalk. There is nothing like the smell of fresh-picked corn on the cob and unquestionably nothing like the taste of freshly picked corn.
Grandma made sugar cream pies from unpasteurized cream from the farm’s cows. The secret to the pie was the fresh cream! As your fork breaks through the cracked caramelized sugar, a creamy vanilla custard emerges with a hint of nutmeg. These were simple, high-quality ingredients most farm families had on hand. It’s a nostalgic, sentimental dessert, embodying authentic comfort food at its best!
We used all the adult kitchen equipment from a young age, and I loved every minute spent with my mother, immersing ourselves in creating, tasting, smelling, and eating the foods we imagined. My mother also cleaned up the dirty dishes behind me, which today I appreciate even more! Cooking at home, alongside my mother, eventually gave me the freedom to experiment independently. My father worked three jobs at one time. One of these jobs was guarding the building-size walk-in refrigerators that stored all the fruits and vegetables before going to the neighboring markets in small towns and the big cities. Vegetables came from the farms to our table by train in the suburbs. There I learned how unripened green bananas arrived green and then ripened by ethylene gas. My father would come home with unique fruits I had never tasted before, namely pomegranates and star fruit, kumquats, and dragon fruit. He would stop at the market and pick up a loaf of French bread and Brie for us to snack on later in the day. We would sit at the breakfast table with a loaf of white bread and white gravy, later learning this was a béchamel sauce. Early on, all of these experiences shaped my love for cooking.
These ventures led me to culinary school in Michigan, where I immersed myself in the world of food. I entered my first culinary competition during culinary school, prevailing in a Michigan Chocolate Competition as runner-up in the professional category— led by French Certified Master Pastry Chef Gilles Renusson. I incorporate all of my food experiences and culinary expertise into my recipes. I focus on using the best fresh, most flavorful ingredients for balanced recipes.
When you are drawn to a particular restaurant, more than likely, there is a reason – chefs spend a considerable amount of time prepping and caring for fresh ingredients, and this makes a massive difference in the quality and flavor of the foods you make at home. My cooking style combines my international food and travel experiences, family cooking, and sourcing quality ingredients from local farmers’ markets here in Southern California.