Mom in the kitchen, and in your cooking

How did your mother influence your cooking?

I know I mention my mom from time to time here in the blog, and she’s definitely “in the kitchen” with me a lot – in my thoughts, in my techniques and, certainly, in my recipes. My sister and I both have a BIG binder of copied recipes that my mom set up for us, and we’ve continued to add to. My brother…well, he went onto a professional career as a chef. I remember sitting in one of the restaurants where he was chef, munching away at the cole slaw. After one forkful, I froze. “This is mom’s cole slaw!” I exclaimed. [You have to understand. My mom’s cole slaw is not your typical restaurant slaw. It’s sweeter, has carrots and just a touch of lemon.] “Yes,” he said, “I just set out to make the best cole slaw I could, and kept doctoring it until it tasted like mom’s.” He was also known to make long distance phone calls from some very good San Francisco kitchens asking for a recipe from my mother.

Open Table: Philadelphia Restaurants, the Web site that connects diners to restaurants to make reservations, just published a series of posts on famous chefs sharing how their mothers influenced their cooking. Read about Chef Jose Garces, winner of “The Next Iron Chef,” and whose Philadelphia restaurants include Amada, Distrito, and Tinto. In Caroline Potter’s article, Garces says,

I’ve been privileged to work with some of the finest chefs in America and Spain,” says Chef Garces, “but my passion for cooking comes from my early memories…. Even when I was a child, I was drawn to the joy of cooking a great meal. I have always loved the way that food can transform a person’s whole outlook and really make their day.”

The series also includes thoughts by New York Chef Daniel Humm and San Francisco Chef Michael Mina. I think I need to put a ticker in my file for next year to see what Bucks County chefs have to say about their mothers!

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