I really love cooking.
I wish I could say I always have, but the truth is that I only began cooking when I was 23 years old. I’ve always longed to have these beautifully poetic childhood memories of cooking in the kitchen with my mother…with messy flour spilling on the counter, lingering aromas of seasonings, spices and all of that. Reality is that my mom is one of the hardest working women I know. However, she and my dad started our family at the age of 19, so working and jobs took precedence. My parents did manage to cook sometimes, but it was always after a really long day of work, so the meals were usually quick, easy and many times, from a box or can.
I don’t feel slighted though, because I had a great childhood, but I do feel a little regret because my parents were so burdened by the hustle that we didn’t really have time for those picturesque moments in the kitchen. The fact is, my mom LOVES to cook and eat delicious food just as much as I do. She would have LOVED to have my sister and me in the kitchen, working our way through beautiful recipes together. The struggle was real.
Somehow in our adult lives — my mom, my sister and I have gained new perspectives and appreciation of whole foods, and have each discovered the joy of cooking a meal from scratch. Thankfully, between cooking classes together or family meals during the holidays, we’ve made up for any lost moments from our childhood.
So back to when I was 23 and newly married…I knew how to make two things: scrambled eggs (a la breakfast burrito style) and fancy ramen (definitely NOT the trendy ramen of the now, but more like adding some garlic salt and veggies to those 25c ramen packets). I was determined to learn how to cook. I challenged myself to try a new recipe every day for 6 months. It was awesome and literally, trial by fire — with some great successes and some major failures. But after a few months, I found myself needing something more than my own isolated musings in my kitchen.
I took my first group cooking class more than 5 years ago. This amazing little 24-hr bakery opened up and started offering cooking classes, so I jumped at the opportunity (Shoutout to Stefanie Haviv & Amelie’s — those classes were the BEST!). I had a growing love for cooking, but I had NO idea of the transformative power of cooking with people. Eating together is one thing, but cooking a meal with one another is a completely different experience.
I’ve worked as a graphic designer for more than 15 years now, so for me cooking has become my chosen outlet for creative expression. I have found freedom in the trial and error of learning new recipes and feeling confident to go “off book”. Combine that newly-discovered freedom with an organized group of people who have nothing in common other than their shared love of food…and I was in heaven.
Anytime I find myself in the kitchen with friends or family, or even strangers working together to create a meal, I enter a sacred space…of purpose, of belonging, of connection. Just like our innate need for food and water, making connections with people is one of our basic human needs. Cooking with and for others helps us build and strengthen those connections.
A few years ago, I won a grant at Trinity Episcopal School where I was given the opportunity to dream up an amazing out-of-the-box professional development experience. I signed up for a week-long National Geographic photography workshop in San Francisco.
However, I was still in the early days of my love affair with cooking, so before I arrived in San Francisco, I got a wild hair and decided to email one of my favorite food bloggers and cookbook authors, Adrianna Adarme. I asked if I could come to Los Angeles to cook with her, pick her brain on food styling, photography and whatever else for the day. I knew it was a long shot especially because she didn’t know me from Sam. So, when she surprisingly agreed to host me, I. LOST. MY. DAMN. MIND.
It was life-giving and life-changing in so many ways. The photography workshop was my professional development for my job at Trinity, but my cooking experience with Adrianna was the personal development I needed for life.
She let me tag along to her local market, and I watched as she mulled over available ingredients and then laid it all out on her kitchen counter as she began her own process of exploration in the kitchen. I watched as she orchestrated this stunningly simple, but delicious dish — a crostini with ricotta & gremolata, topped with fresh apricots and pistachios. I knew of Adrianna only what I had read from her blog, but being in her home, in her kitchen, cooking together, I felt like we had known each other forever. And THAT’S the magic of communal cooking. It was connection, it was therapeutic and it was something I knew I wanted to replicate.
So, I want to open my doors and invite you to come cook with me. I’m not a studied culinary expert with a dream kitchen, but I do have an insatiable love for food and for community. In just a few short weeks, I have the privilege of hosting an incredible Sobremesa dinner party as part of Sunday Suppers global dinner series. I would LOVE nothing more than for you to come experience the joys of community and cooking with me. I hope to see you at the table soon!
Thursday, June 21, at 7pm.