Tell Us About Your Travels....

Comment

Tell Us About Your Travels....

Tell Us About Your Travels....

You get precise answers if you ask me about Indian food, knife skills, how to sew a button, or how to string a necklace. But, ask me to talk about myself and how I became a chef and world traveler......I struggle to know where to start. That became apparent when I was asked to speak to the Travel and Tourism class at Oklahoma State University.

Thirty years ago I attended OSU in the Clothing, Textiles, and Merchandising department. I taught the freshman sewing classes and retail clothing merchandising as a graduate teaching assistant. Last week, just thirty years later, I spent an afternoon touring the College of Human Sciences at OSU in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (formerly the School of Hotel Restaurant Administration). Teaching the Travel and Tourism class was going to be a treat, but it was difficult to know what to say.

I began by telling the students about my semester abroad in Vienna, Austria. That trip was life-changing for me, and was when my dream of world travel began. My first job teaching cooking was for Tulsa Neighborhood Networks, where I taught underprivileged kids in an apartment complex for low-income housing. After school, the kids would fill an empty apartment while I taught them how to make easy and nutritious meals for themselves and their families.

I was also taking cooking classes on my own, including four years of “professional chef” classes at The Savory Chef in Tulsa.

I told the students that my husband and I traveled a lot, and after several trips abroad I decided I wanted to start learning international cuisine, especially the places where I was visiting. I began traveling alone and meeting new friends around the world who were eager to help me learn local cooking and food cultures.

Meanwhile, I started teaching adult cooking classes at The Savory Chef, and I’ve since taught at other cooking schools, private homes, and now exclusively in my own home where I have a teaching kitchen and outdoor kitchen that are ideal for cooking classes.

I’ve also taught in the Dominican Republic and Rwanda to very poor women who receive micro-loans for their small businesses.

When I finished my talk to the OSU students, I was flattered by the number of questions they asked me. “Where would you live if you left the U.S.?” “Australia”. “What is your favorite cuisine to cook?” “I don’t have a favorite. I love to cook Indian food because most people don’t know how, but I also love to cook southern Italian food."

"I enjoy cooking what I know others will eat, and want to learn how to make”. “Are you afraid of getting sick when you eat in other countries?” “I try to be careful, and I have medications I take with me in case I become sick. It’s important to me to try everything I can, especially if the cook is standing before me, waiting to see if I enjoy it. In India, my guide told me he had never seen an American try everything that was offered, including street food in the poorest areas of New Dehli.

In Dominican Republic I was offered a beef empanada from a woman who sold them in the streets. I couldn’t refuse it and she was so happy I took a bite. My guide told me I should be more careful about eating food that I wasn’t used to. She was also Dominican, and she said she would not have accepted the empanada. It was more important to me to show the woman my respect”.

I answered similar questions for at least thirty minutes until I had to stop for the end of class. It was such a privilege to share a part of my story with those students, and I hope I gave them some inspiration to learn the most they can when they travel. I also emphasized the importance of sharing their gifts with people they meet, whether it’s photography, cooking, knitting, or playing with children. Travel is a privilege, whether it’s in the U.S. or abroad. Wherever you’re able to explore, respect the culture, eat the food, ask questions, and always smile.

Comment

Print Friendly and PDF
Hanging Loose In Maui

Comment

Hanging Loose In Maui

 

Hanging Loose In Maui

After a week on the Big Island in Hawaii, my husband and I decided to spend a few days in Maui, an island we’d never visited. We also chose to stay at our first Airbnb, which made us a little nervous. After a lot of research, we chose a condo just off the beach in Kapalua on the northwest shore of the island. It turned out to be a fantastic property with a gorgeous view of the ocean. The Kapalua community has a couple of resorts, a lot of great restaurants, and beautiful beaches. Each morning we walked for miles down the beach, and around the neighborhoods where pine trees towered above us. The views of the mountains and the famous Plantation Golf Course were stunning.

Our first night in Maui we saw the most incredible sunset we had ever seen, and the following nights were not much different. We had booked a helicopter ride with Sunshine Helicopters, and had a great 1 1/2 hour ride all over the island, viewing the volcanic ruins, plush green rain forests, and numerous waterfalls running between the steep peaks high in the clouds. Our pilot, Tim, was a former Marine and was a terrific guide telling us about the eco systems, industries, and history of the island.

We spent much of the week relaxing at the beach, shopping in Paia and eating at some great restaurants. I spent a lot of time making jewelry with my great ocean views and Phil played golf at Plantation. Although we didn’t explore the south shore or east shore, we had a marvelous time relaxing in our little corner of the island. One of our favorite restaurants was Joey’s Kitchen, a small restaurant in a shopping center with delicious island/Asian fusion food made by Joey, a chef with experience at many of the large resort restaurants.

One night we ordered carry-out and took it to our condo, and it was so good we ate at Joey’s for our last meal before going to the airport. We also loved Merriman, a beachfront restaurant in Kapalua, where we also ate two times because it was so good! The pineapple bread pudding and the beef sliders were amazing.

Lahaina Grill is a great restaurant located in the little village of Lahaina. It doesn’t have an ocean view, but the food was delicious. Our favorite breakfast spot was the Honolua Store on the Ritz Carlton property. It is a fabulous souvenir shop, market, and made-to-order food counter with amazing breakfast including pulled pork wrapped-in-pancakes, hashbrown and egg skillets, omelets, and pastries. It was really difficult to leave this island of paradise, but we will definitely return when we can work off the six pounds we gained.

Comment

Print Friendly and PDF
Chef Fest Hawaii

Comment

Chef Fest Hawaii

Chef Fest Hawaii

The Kona-Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island is a piece of paradise. My purpose for visiting the award-winning Four Seasons Resort was to attend my first Chef Fest, a four-day event filled with activities including cooking classes, mixology classes, wine dinners, beach parties, and just “sitting around the fire” with some of America’s top chefs. My niece happens to be a manager at the Residents Beach House restaurant on the property, and she told me a year ago, when she first helped with the event, that I must attend the following year.

Well, I just completed an incredible stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai, and it did not disappoint. Not only are the accomodations luxurious with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, the staff is spot-on perfect! Every detail was considered for the hotel’s guests, and the Chef Event was perfectly executed.

The opening night was a tasting event with at least ten chefs and six wine or spirits reps serving delicious portions of their best creations. The setting was the outdoor amphitheater, with live music and island ambiance. The following days were scheduled with cooking classes, an elaborate wine tasting from Harlan Estate in Napa Valley, a mixology class with Julie Reiner, beach party with more tastings from celebrity chefs, and wine dinners the remaining evenings.

I was privileged to get to play tennis three days with two of the chefs, Jonathan Waxman and Christof Syre, and we had a great time! The three classes I took were from Chefs Jonathan Waxman, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Andy Ricker. Other chefs at the event were Neal Frasier, Ivan Orkin, Fabrizo Schenardi, Edward Lee, and Thomas Bellec. I met them all, and tasted their delicious food harvested on the island. I can’t compliment the Four Seasons Hualalai enough for their attention to detail to making this event such a success. Being a guest at this beautiful resort was such a treat, and a sure lure for next year’s event.

Comment

Print Friendly and PDF
Around the World Dinner

4 Comments

Around the World Dinner

Around The World Dinner

It’s no secret that I have a heart for Rwanda, Africa. Last February I visited for my second time, and was introduced to Hope Haven, a school in rural Kigali where over 400 children have the privilege of being educated. I stayed at the school for nearly a week, teaching cooking to the kitchen staff and some of the parents of the students. I was invited to their annual fundraiser event held in Denver last April, where I offered to donate a dinner party for eight people to be prepared in the home of Hope Haven’s founder, Susan Hollern. Five hundred people attended the event at the Wildlife Museum in Denver, and I was stunned when the bidding for my dinner went to $16,000! I agreed to cook the dinner twice, so the total raised from my two dinners was $32,000! That thrilled me since I knew that kind of money would be so beneficial for Hope Haven and the children that are hugely impacted there.