Spirit Animal Blogger Award

Napa Vineyard

Spencesgirl nominated me for a Spirit Animal Blogger Award, and I just had to participate! It’s so fun to feel like other bloggers are noticing you and paying attention to what you’re up to, so I want to make sure that I try to give other people that feeling as well! I was way late in participating in the last blogger award, and I’m determined not to let that happen again.

In order to accept this award, I’m supposed to share who I am, what my blog means to me and what animal I would want to be.

Who I am:

I’m Anne! I’ve spent the last bunch of years cooking professionally and recently started my own business as a personal chef, blogger, and freelance consultant. I started out in Minnesota, where I spent the first two and a half decades of my life with about a thousand plans for what I was going to do with my life, none of which involved cooking! I was going to act, teach, write, sling coffee, train animals, work on cars, you name it! I wound up with a degree in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, but finally decided against a life in academia, though I did absolutely love it. After much trial and error, I wound up cooking and absolutely loving it! Now I can’t imagine my life without it.  Part of my experience in college involved a semester in London, so when I decided that I wanted to pursue cheffing for real, I realized that I could spend a chunk of my life back in London, attending culinary school and working. It actually made sense to do that! Rather than spend a few years earning another degree, the program in London was less than a year, which actually made it a much more reasonable decision.

After school, I was incredibly fortunate and the drop-dead gorgeous and amazing restaurant where I was working offered to sponsor a work visa for me, which they’d never done before, but I decided to return to the states. (I frequently wonder what my life would be like had I stayed! I love London beyond words.) Though I could live anywhere, California made the most sense for how I wanted to live and the style of food I wanted to focus on. Food in Northern California is so frequently all about letting  the individual ingredient shine, rather than changing it into something that it’s not. Did you find an incredible carrot? Is it the best carrot you’ve ever had? (Out here, the answer is frequently a resounding “yes!”) Then that carrot is going to be the star of the dish. Not braised or roasted to death, not made to look like and apple or a slice of pie, but as the perfect carrot that it is, with accompaniments that will draw out the individual characteristics of that particular carrot.  I suppose that sounds weird, but I love it!

So that’s what I like to do when I cook. Focus on the ingredient. Keep it fresh. If it’s great, don’t hide it! Let it shine! Yeah, you probably need a few weird ingredients in your pantry, but those ingredients will go a long way and last for a long time. If your ingredients shine, then your dish will shine, so shine on! There are some fun techniques and cool ingredients that I’ve learned along the way, and this blog lets me share them with you so. If you see something that you don’t recognize or understand, I hope you ask! I have always loved teaching people who want to learn, and I’d love for this blog to be a place where people can learn new things!

Anyhoo, from London to San Francisco, where I worked in a Michelin-Starred restaurant for a couple of years while doing a little part time work catering and so on. In SF, I met an amazing guy and we moved to Napa together, which has been wonderful! I’ve gone from a line cook to a sous chef to opening and running a kitchen in a new restaurant and have worked all along the way with insanely talented Chefs. Now I’ve opened my own business, and part of that process is starting this new blog, where I share my own recipes, plus ideas and tips that I’ve picked up after years in restaurants that can help people make restaurant quality food at home. Long before I ever started cooking, I was absolutely certain that my life would be in academia, so finding a way (this blog!) to bring my love of teaching, writing and research to my total joy in the fact that I actually get to cook for a living has been amazing. Basically, I write, I cook, and I feel lucky every day!

Hmmmm…. that seems to do a great job of covering what my blog means to me. I’m going with it!

What animal would I want to be?  That’s tough! It would have to be an animal with a great life. One with a tendency to feel joy and freedom every day. Those are emotions that I’ve only learned to cultivate over the last several years , and I couldn’t choose any animal that didn’t personify those particular feelings. I’m going to have to go with a golden retriever. One with an awesome life, green grass, blue skies, and great people to play with. I spent the majority of my life dealing with serious unhappiness and other stuff, and I don’t think I could ever go back.

Summer fun

Really awesome blogs to nominate for this blogger award:

Trees of Transition

Burp! Appetit

A Cupcake For Love

Rachel Eats

The Patterned Plate

Homemade With Mess

Spontaneous Tomato

It’s good to be crazy sometimes

Spence’s Girl

and Banal Muffins

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