I knew when I was 12 years old that food would be an important part of my life. That was when I baked my first coffee cake, and when I realized how good it was, I knew that I would continue my interest in food.
I went to a Catholic school that had an amazing cook, Mrs. Lamb. I have many memories of different dishes, but I learned to appreciate liver and onions, still one of my favorites. Mrs. Lamb baked the most amazing yeast rolls fresh every day and I would look for extras whenever I could.
When I was a freshman in high school in Madisonville, KY, directly across from the school was an organization called The Youth Center. It was a place where the kids could gather for lunch, and the director asked me to help everyday cooking hamburgers. I wish I knew how many burgers I cooked that year. The best part was that I was allowed to leave the class just before lunch so I could scoot across the street and get the grill hot.
At the end of my sophomore year at the University of Kentucky, I moved into the Sigma Nu Fraternity house, and periodically when a cook didn’t show for work, I volunteered to help put a meal together. This was my first exposure to quantity cooking and I learned so much about preparing meals for large groups. That was almost 50 years ago and some of my fraternity brothers still remember my cheese grits casserole, which were a popular part of some of our meals.
My bachelor’s degree is in geography, another lifelong interest along with food and travel. I read National Geographic magazines starting when I was 10 years old, and I have been a Life Member of the Society since I was a teenager. It helps to be able to read maps especially when I have a restaurant to find, or a winery to visit.
I don’t want this bio to turn into a resume, but suffice to say, I have spent many years preparing food, planning parties, hiring employees, and getting way too little sleep at times. Foodservice demands a person’s full attention to detail and a steady hand at managing ten things at once. At my age, 67, I wonder how I was able to get through each day, and now it is time to reflect on all those years of my career.
I think one of the things I count as a bonus is waking up many mornings knowing that I don’t have to race off to a full day (and often night) of back-breaking work. I am very thankful to still have a huge amount of energy, even with arthritic hands, hands that have sliced and diced mountains of every kind of food.
I continue to teach my cooking classes, which I love, and I really enjoy the new opportunity I have to travel and cook for small groups who take tours to Ireland, Scotland, Italy, etc. It is just a natural move for me to combine my loves for food, travel, and geography. I get to prepare foods indigenous to the area I am in, and I relish the chance to shop each day for the freshest ingredients I can find wherever I go. I guess it helps to have both Irish & Italian blood in my veins – two fabulous cuisines I never tire of.
I hope to hear back from many of you as I put this website into gear.