Eat to Live…Live to Eat

I cannot remember exactly when  it was that I discovered food and proceeded to fall in love with it. As far back as I can remember I have always had some special feelings about food, so I know that this love wasn’t a knock you off your feet kinda thing. I think it was more a slow developing love affair. You know the kind where you kinda know about each other, like hanging out with each other but it’s not until you don’t have each other you realize…Hey I love…I can’t imagine my life with out….

I am the oldest of four siblings (1 sister and 2 brothers). For reasons far too lengthy to get into on this blog I lead a somewhat sheltered life and my siblings at various seasons were all each other had. Even today we are very close and love each other as hard as we fight each other. For an outsider this dynamic is hard to understand.  Growing up with each one of my siblings had something, you know the kind of something that when you are around your grandparents, aunts, uncles and they ask what you have been up to you can have something amazing to say. For my sister it was her photography and amazing soccer skills, for my brothers it was football and the fact that they taught themselves how to play hockey. It never ends well when it was assumed that athletic abilities are hereditary. The worst example of this was when I decided to play soccer.  I was assigned the position of goalie and was the number one reason we lost all the games. Now similar to Goldilocks I tried all of the things that my siblings were amazing at, and I am a true example that everything is NOT for everybody!

When I was in 13 years old and in the 8th grade when my parents built a house in “BFE” on 149th and Switzer in Overland Park, KS. I hope that all of the lovely folks that live out that way now appreciate all the wonderful development because when we lived there it was nothing but fields and cows! For whatever reason my parents decided to install a satellite television instead of cable and that is when I discovered The Food Network. I always watched all the cooking shows on PBS but the show that knocked me out was Iron Chef and specifically Chef Morimoto. The show was so dramatic and had subtitles (which were sometimes a problem for my ADD), but the passion that these chefs displayed for food and the art that they created, the emotion that the tasting judges displayed I wanted that…food could be my something!  We already liked each other so why not take this to the next level.

I enrolled in Home Economics only to learn that, thanks to my mother and grandmother Evelyn, I could probably have taught that class.  It was very basic for me. So thanks to my teacher I discovered the Culinary program at Johnson County Community College. This was my junior year when I learned about it. I also realized that I was going to graduate a semester early and If I wanted I could enroll at JCCC but first I had to get Jerry Vincent’s approval, he was the head of the Culinary program. It was a requirement to meet with Jerry Vincent before you ever stepped foot in the class.

Here is where the 17-year-old-mother-of-an-almost-1-year-old-won’t-take-no-for-an-answer, enters. Somewhat persistent and nervously confident, I arranged a meeting not knowing exactly what to expect but knowing that Mr. Vincent was the gatekeeper. If food and I were going to get to know each other on a deeper level I had to sell him first. It took some work, this was a different time, but I convinced him that I was willing to do the work. From that moment 19 years ago, I started my chef’s apprenticeship.  

It was hard. My motherhood was not an excuse for my parents to coddle me. I attended school 8 am to 9pm Mondays and we worked 40 hours the rest of the week. I worked at the now closed Rockhill Tennis Club. There I learned that being a chef was directly related to masculinity and that I had to work ten times harder to be just as respected than the average man. In addition, no one cared that I was 17 or a mother. This relationship with food is worth all the trouble.

I still watch The Food Network and in September 2014 and October 2015 I had the opportunity to be on Cut Throat Kitchen and BBQ Blitz. It is a dream come true and no matter where I am and who is in my life, my love for food will always be there, always….