I landed my first job in a restaurant kitchen when I was 21- mostly through happenstance- and because what I loved most at the time was drawing and painting from life, I was happy to be surrounded by beautiful ingredients all day long! Of course, at the restaurant I fell madly in love with cooking, and I set out to pursue my food education. As the years went on I moved from Boston to New York, Paris, Burgundy, and Berkeley, and back to New York again, where I cooked in some wonderful restaurants including Biba, Upstairs at the Pudding, The Blue Room, Nicole’s, Ecaille et Plume, and Chez Panisse, and even had a stint as a stagiaire in the gorgeous 17th century chateau which housed Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne. I enjoyed many summer weeks as a private chef on Martha’s Vineyard, and worked as a caterer in New York City. I brought those experiences with me when I joined Martha Stewart Living magazine as a food editor, where I worked for 11 years. It was while working there and creating beautiful food for the magazine pages, that I discovered there was a way to combine my early love of the still life with my passion for cooking.
Although I learned my trade while working for some of the best chefs and teachers, it is the talented and inspiring co-workers I have met along the way who I most often think of while I’m cooking. These days, when I go into the kitchen I bring with me those years’ worth of memories- of lessons learned by trial and error; of laughter and camaraderie.
Whether I am devising recipes for editorial content or cooking for friends, I approach each meal as though I’m preparing delicious and nourishing food to enjoy with my own family. My menus and recipes depend upon the best ingredients, the season, and setting- as well as the expectations and hopes of the diners- for inspiration. And when I am at work developing recipes for the pages of magazines, newspapers and books, I try to conjure up the very moment in which each meal will be eaten; I see recipes as merely the starting point to an experience, one which will be enhanced by our other senses. It’s hard to capture those details in our memories, but they all inform our enjoyment of a meal: Is the sun sparkling on the glass of the dining room window? Does the wind howl and make us want to hunker down? Are the tiniest buds appearing on tree branches, or flowers bursting all about? We can only try to retrace those elements of a meal, committing the whole experience to memory. So, when I am on the job as a food stylist, I feel lucky to work with amazing photographers who know how to capture those edible moments beautifully, so they can be consumed over and over again.