There's a big assumption out there that Southern women know how to really cook. Let me start by telling you it's mostly true. Growing up in a small Kentucky town, I was raised on my mother's high-calorie, high-taste fried foods, home-raised vegetables, biscuits and gravy, pies and barbeque. Cooking has not been something I've learned in the traditional sense, but rather something I've just known how to do most of my life. I started cooking fried chicken and cornbread for my family of five when I was about 8 years old. That's pretty southern, right there.
My goals as a caterer involve making simple food a bit more elegant and making elegant food a bit more accessible. I think cooking and eating should be fun, and that eating beautiful food is not something that should be reserved for the beautiful people. My food gurus include my mother whose pies are not to be believed, Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, food writer Calvin Trillin, and the Starnes family of Paducah, KY, who created the best style of pulled-pork barbecue you ever tasted. Call me, I'll make it for you.
I love the way food shapes our lives, how it upholds family traditions and preserves cultural histories. Most of all, I love that food brings people together, sometimes in unpredictable ways. Heck, I wouldn't be here if my great grandfather wasn't a food vendor. He met my great grandmother - a cook at a family-owned German restaurant - as he wheeled a vegetable cart through the streets of Hamtramck, a Polish neighborhood in the heart of Detroit.
My mentors are family cooks, including the matriarchs on both sides of my family and my friends' Italian parents. Some of their best recipes are included in the Chowgirls menu. Spending time in the kitchen with these older, wiser cooks, I've learned that cooking is a delicate balance of discipline, intuition, and heart. It's an art form, a means of expression. Use it to draw together those near and dear.
Whether it's an art opening or a holiday dinner party, I love to cook up a big feast and gather friends and family for good times. And that's exactly what Chowgirls promises to do for you!