FIRST, I WAS IN COLLEGE
I went to UC Berkeley and studied English literature. One day I wandered into the Berkeley Bowl and it blew my mind. It was crowded, frenetic, loud, overwhelming–a cacophony of colors, smells, sounds and textures. The huge selection of fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses were unlike anything I had ever seen before. I couldn’t imagine what to do with half of it, but I wanted to find out. I started cooking and never looked back.
THEN I LEARNED HOW TO BE A CHEF
After graduating, I spent my 20s cooking and learning at Bay Wolf in Oakland and later at my own company, Carter Brown Catering. At the restaurant I sauteed, grilled and confited my way through all of the stations and ran the kitchen during the day. We made a lot of duck and duck parts and cooked with a lot of duck fat. We roasted whole animals, looked for old cookbooks in used book stores, learned about wine and worked the hot, busy line. When I opened Carter Brown Catering with my friend and fellow chef, Bryar Brown, I cooked for huge, high-end weddings, corporate events and private parties for the rich and famous.
NOW I AM A PRIVATE CHEF AND RECIPE DEVELOPER
Now I live in the suburbs with a husband, 2 little shorties and 5 chickens. I am a private chef for a family in the Silicon Valley. I am paid to develop recipes for private companies. A few times a year I produce special events. At home, I have people over for dinner, we drink wine, we play lots of music, work in the garden, take care of the chickens, stand around with our neighbors drinking home-brewed beer and watching kids play.
I LOVE OLD FASHIONED RECIPES
I’ve always been fascinated by old recipes. By old, I mean simple, real recipes made with actual food ingredients that resemble things your ancestors may have made. Nothing genetically engineered, chemically altered, foamed or made in a place that looks more like a science lab than a kitchen–just good, plain, old normal food like roast chicken, vegetable soup, sourdough, strawberry jam. The writer Michael Pollan says that we should not “eat anything your great great-grandmother would not recognize as food.”
…BUT OLD FASHIONED RECIPES NEED TO BE REFURBISHED FOR MODERN LIVES
I like to collect and restore these pieces of our culinary heritage, however, I find that old recipes need some tweaking to fit modern standards. Many of them are overly rich for our lifestyle or use obscure ingredients. Since I develop recipes professionally, I have found that is pretty easy to keep the spirit of a handed down recipe while adjusting it to fit a fresh, healthy family dinner table.