Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Food and Love


I was a childhood foodie. Even at three I knew my destiny lay in the world of food. By my late teens I understood that being good at something meant being passionate about it. I sensed that cooking was magical and mysterious, closely tied to passion and also to love.
I have had an extraordinary journey through the world of food. I have been a caterer, a restaurateur, a private chef, a food stylist and a food editor. I have traveled the world, met amazing chefs, drunk the best wines and eaten the finest meals. Best of all, I have been able to do what I love.
A few years ago, my job as a food editor of House & Garden came to an end when the magazine closed. Eventually I got a call from the Los Angeles Times. They wanted to re-launch the magazine and needed a food editor. I thought, why not? I had always envisioned a return to California at some point so this was it.
Soon after I started the recession hit and my job was cut back. I found myself in a new city and wondering whether to stick it out or go back to New York.
I’ve had to face those big life questions recently that I thought had been resolved in my 20’s. I’ve been down and lost but one bad day I asked myself what is it that I have always have wanted to do? Maybe I wasn’t in the financial position to ask this but I did anyway.
There are two things I’ve always wanted to do. The first is to make wine, the second is to make bread. Wine is an expensive proposition so why not make bread? It seemed right for the times. Bread is so basic. Water and flour and yeast. Who doesn’t love bread? It is also something I can start doing in my house, a grass roots project that I can turn into business.
Now a new journey in the food world begins. The first thing I want to do is to apprentice with some of my favorite bakers for a week or so: Steve Sullivan at Acme Bread and Chad Robertson at Tartine.
Recently two things have happened that sealed the deal for me. Christine Muhlke wrote a piece in the NY Times about Jeff Ford of Cress Spring who sells his breads at the farmers market in Madison, Wisconsin. The story was so moving to me because he was doing what he loved and I could easily see myself doing just what he was doing. Then my friend and mentor Alice Waters visited and we had dinner together. I told her about my plan and she got it right away. She offered to do what she could to make it happen. Before we had finished dinner she was setting up my visit with Steve Sullivan.
My idea is simple: When I get the bread I’m happy with I want to start small by selling it to my neighbors and maybe one public outlet. I’d also like to sell it through a CSA program and then eventually open a small bakery in Los Angeles.
I believe my long journey has taken me here to LA for just this reason. This is my first entry of my new blog documenting my life as a baker. I’m excited, ready, and scared.

3 Comments:

Blogger peden+munk said...

Sounds Wonderful! We look forward to hearing about your journey... and buying your bread.

November 4, 2009 at 2:12 PM  
OpenID astridjohnson said...

Hi there, all the best to you. I just changed after 25 years of a graphic design career to being a vegetarian chef... and wrote a poem last month which relates to the title of your post.

Cook's Poem

My sweet and most steady companion,
old, no ancient friend from Afghanistan,
Thousands of years before we could even conceive
these modern wars you gave us
warming sustenance.
You are strong and full of purpose.
And you will remain my first love.

Seductress, creamy white thighs behind
purple veils, needing bitter salt to avoid
your bitterness. Smooth and silky the result,
when China was the Empire,
as it will be again.
You are mysterious and subtle.
And your kiss made me feel so sensuous.

Little playthings, tiny pearls,
can hardly catch you in the water,
your flower called the shade of the fount of life,
originating from the African planes with
instant potential to feed the millions.
Your are exotic and alien here now.
But you are like a new child to me.

All grains and vegetables have history with men.
And all men have history with men.
And cooks read the future with love.

November 21, 2009 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Lisa Cohen said...

This is so inspirational! I also am smitten with baking bread and look forward to following along on your journey. Best of luck!!

December 19, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

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