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LETTER SEPTEMBER 2017 Meet the Men Behind Your Meals
www.OctoberKitchen.com | 860-533-0588 | 309 Green Rd Manchester, CT 06042
How My Mom (and PBS) Inspired Me to Cook COOKING UP EXCELLENCE
In August of 1997, I was on vacation in the little beach community of Ogunquit, Maine. For most people, a vacation means a break from the news, but one Sunday, I desperately needed to track down a copy of the New York Times. I was barely six years out of culinary school and the executive chef at a small fine dining restaurant. Shortly before my trip, renowned critic Ruth Reichl ate at the restaurant, and her experience would be published in the restaurant review section that day. I tore open the paper when I finally got my hands on it. “EXCELLENT,” her review declared. Holy Moses! At 27, I stood at a pinnacle in my career. My journey to “EXCELLENT” started at my mother’s side. As a child, I would pull out the bottom drawer so that I could step up to peer over the kitchen counter to see what she was making. I can still remember watching her roll out dough for homemade English muffins. That said, while my mother was a fair cook, her recipes were limited. She mastered about 15 dishes and would rotate through them every month when she cooked family dinner. When I discovered Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet on PBS, my culinary world expanded. I’d always loved to eat and was enthralled by the process of preparing a meal to be enjoyed. I fell in love with
cooking and realized that if I ever wanted to eat something like what I saw on those shows, I needed to make it myself. As luck would have it, my mom went back to work around this time and was more than happy to let me have the reins in the kitchen. At 13 years old, I started to cook for my whole family. My mom would get me the ingredients I needed, and I would get dinner on the table. One of the first meals I ever served my family was a Yankee pot roast recipe I found in an issue of Yankee Magazine. It turned out really well, and I still have a version of it on the menu today. My passion for cooking only grew from there. I never excelled in sports or clubs, but in high school, I took to home economics like a fish to water. In my sophomore year, I gained early entry into the Culinary Magnet School Program in Wethersfield, and my life has revolved around the culinary arts ever since. It’s been 20 years since I read Ruth Reichl’s review, and while it was a proud moment, I’m happy to report it wasn’t the only highlight of my career. There would be plenty more to keep, and each new triumph has been delicious.
“I fell in love with cooking and realized if I ever
wanted to eat something like what I saw on those shows, I needed to make it myself.”
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