I know. You’re yearning for more. Here’s my cooking life in a nutshell:
1985 – Age 11. I attempt to bake my first cake. I have a vague
recollection that one step required the freezer. Not good.
1994 – I study abroad in Bologna, Italy. Lots of travel and red wine,
not so much reading Dante in the original. A friend teaches me how to make lasagne verdi, a local specialty. Cooking interest (and taste buds) officially piqued.
1996 – I return to Italy. Teach English: the highlight was playing Scrabble with the 9-year-olds using slang and “potty words” (could I have been more popular?). Enroll in an 8-week cooking class in my free time. First accomplishment: learning to not chop parsley like an arthritic. Second accomplishment: kneading pasta from scratch. Third accomplishment: convincing Italians that I might actually have some talent despite being American. E vai!
1997 – Month-long internship in a high-end Italian restaurant kitchen. Shorthanded staff, sweaty summer tourist season, chef who swore in seven different languages (incorrectly), lots of scribbling in my recipe journal between de-sanding clams and clipping sea asparagus
(no, I did not just make up that vegetable).
1997 – Later – Prep cook for a French bistro in the U.S., mostly just to see if all chefs are really that crazy (this one is unusually mellow; gauge completely on fritz). Become an expert on pesto, mashed potatoes, and avoiding constant sexual banter, which I quickly realize is the international language of cooks.
1998 – After touring a few professional cooking schools, I decide to put my food career on hold and pursue my first love, editing (ah, the intoxicating power of running the high school yearbook!). Begin work as a closed captions editor working for a couple that routinely threatens employees with lawsuits. Buy me a martini—I’ve got a great story!
1999 – Move to New York City to become a magazine editor and eventually land a job at Travel + Leisure. I’m pretty sure my Italian fluency got me the job (note to parents: three years of eating and drinking in Italy was an obvious resume builder). Attend fun restaurant openings, blabber away on live television, and wear high heels like a pro (bunion surgery is painless, right?).
2005 – My career veers back to food as I begin my MBA in entrepreneurial management to open a specialty food store with an Italian partner from my cooking school days. Do gobs of research, sample cases of product, attend multiple food shows, attend specialized food seminars—taste buds become downright bossy.
2007 – Italian partner goes on the fritz and we part ways.
Again: Martini. Story.
2008 – Eating well, drinking well, contemplating (as well as can be expected after drinking well)…
2009 – And Jane said… Let There Be Bite!