For as long as I can remember, I have always entertained and hosted. In college, I would scrape up what I could with limited funds and cook with limited equipment (tiny kitchen, one knife, one pan....you get the idea!) and serve a crowd of hungry 20-somethings. Today, I entertain on most weekends (Saturday dinner or Sunday brunch). As a working parent whose friends are the same, my default menu needs to be fast, kid friendly and entertainment worthy. I achieve this by taking iconic American dishes and then putting a novel twist on it. This way, the children feel a familiarity with the menu but at the same time, the parents get to taste something surprising and special.
For the past couple of years, I have competed in culinary/recipe challenges and have had a blast. My first attempt was on a whim - I entered my recipe for a Korean Burger into Bobby Flay's Burger contest in 2014. As one of the 3 finalists, I cooked my burger on the Rachael Ray show and won first place. My burger was on the menu of Bobby's Burger Palace as "Burger of the Month". I then entered my Chai Spice Cinnamon Waffles to the Pillsbury Bake Off Contest for the first time last year and was lucky enough to be flown down to Nashville as a finalist. I also love entering online recipe contests. For example, I came in as runner up in the Go Dairy Free Dessert contest (sponsored by Silk) for my Champorado Infused with Ginger and Thai Chili.Most recently, I entered, for the first time, the Dearborn Chili Cook Off in January. I came in first place for my "Asian Style Short Rib Chili". The chili is now for sale at their store in Holmdel.
Last year, I chose to go through the Food Network's arduous casting process in the hope of being chosen one of the "Top 10 Best Home Cooks in America" . After numerous in-person meetings, cooking tests (they loved my Thai spaghetti and meatballs) and videos, I was chosen to be one of the 10 contestants on the show, "All Star Academy". I had the once-in-the-lifetime chance to be mentored by Chef Curtis Stone. Moreover, I had the opportunity to compete against the respective teams of Chef Michael Symon, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Chef Bobby Flay.
As much as I love to entertain and to compete, my passion is conducting cooking demonstrations. I want to show people that cooking is not only accessible to all, but cooking entertainment worthy, from scratch meals is accessible to all. I have worked with The Red Bank Tea & Spice Exchange in Red Bank, NJ this past year, demonstrating how to use the store's delicious spices. All of the demos have been sold out. I have also been asked to do multi course, 3 hour cooking classed for Taste & Technique, a cooking school in Fair Haven, NJ. My first one is scheduled for May 12th.
I love how cooking has impacted our family. We are closer I believe because we cook and eat together. Meals are a special time of our day and we celebrate those times. When I first met my now husband, I was smitten by the blond haired, blue-eyed, ex-football player. I was floored when he told me that he despised garlic or spices! 15 years later, I am proud to say that we are 100% culinarily compatible. My boys, Declan and Kieran, are always open minded. There is no such thing as weird or strange foods. We just came back from Miami last week and we ventured into the streets eating from small Cuban cafes all week long.
The Rachael Ray link (first link) and the nj.com link regarding Food Network (second link) includes a video which might highlight my skills more adequately.