Cooking History

Growing up my mom was a great cook but her repertoire was pretty limited. She cooked mostly the Middle Eastern cuisine of her youth, with a smattering of Indian, Italian and American food recipes that she’d picked up over the years thru magazines and word-of-mouth.

Unfortunately, she never taught me to cook because―as is the case with most traditional household⁠s―I was a boy, and boys don’t cook. Which is ironic because most professional chefs are men, but I digress…

Now, the odd thing is my dad was actually a pretty good cook. In fact, he was renowned for his mad omelette skillz that he picked-up while cooking at a restaurant called The Cookbook (now home of OCK in The Pruneyard) while he was in college. So for neither of them to show me any basic cooking skills is a bit odd but, to be fair, I never showed any interest.

After leaving home in my late teens and into my early 20s I mostly ate canned food, frozen food and fast food. Until one Saturday a.m. I was laying on a couch hungover and popped on the telly and came across “Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen” on PBS.

Nick was a corny guy but he was very charming and made cooking look so easy, fast and fun. He inspired me to try my hand at making a basic marinara sauce that night for dinner and a seed was firmly planted.

I continued watching Nick and other cooking shows, slowly building up my skill set and repertoire. I had quite a few failures along the way but I persevered and kept at it.

Then one day I discovered America’s Test Kitchen (aka Cook’s Illustrated) and that’s when my proverbial Caterpillar began to emerge from the cocoon of mediocrity.

ATK merged my love of cooking thru food and science; their rigorous testing methods⁠–in an attempt to constantly achieve “the best” version of every recipe―really spoke to my inquisitive nature.

I also loved their thoroughness in explaining about every technique they used in every recipe; from how they chopped the onions, to why a persnickety recipe required an exact temperature.

Of course, I needed gadgets, cookware and all sorts of things to achieve the desired results. Even tho “somebody” complains about all my kitchen stuff, every item is necessary and has a purpose. I’ve spent the better part of twenty years accumulating all-manner of cooking implements and I’m proud to say I (almost) have it all.

So, to get to the point, I have now after twenty years of baking, grilling, smoking, frying, braising, sautéing, pressure-cooking, slow-cooking, etc. feel like there’s not much I can’t do in the home kitchen.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “master cook” or ever compare myself to anyone who does this professionally in a kitchen but for someone in the homecook category I think I’d do all right.

I understand that cooking isn’t for everyone and not everyone wants to invest the countless hours or dollars into doing what I’ve done⁠–but I’ll always respect all foodies, Yelpers and food writers alike. Because if it wasn’t for all of us the food scene would be complete shit.

However, the ones that truly know how to cook are the ones I respect the most. There’s just something about those that know how to do something beyond boiling water that makes their opinions that much more credible.

So please reach out if you ever need advice or if you want any of the recipes I’ll be posting here on this site. I’m more than happy to help and spread the knowledge which I’ve gained over the years. And if there’s something specific you’d like me to make then please ask! I always love a good food challenge. Bon appétit!



My own cooking story begins with my family back in Maine. Growing up, I thought my mom and stepmother were great cooks. I loved my mom’s “American Chop Suey” and her Apple pie; my stepmother made the best Spaghetti Sauce and Meatloaf. Because my parents worked full-time, I was asked to help make dinner as a young teenager. I don’t remember being taught how to cook–it was throw together processed items but it got me started.

My mémère (grandmother) was the foodie in our extended family. Growing up in a French Canadian town, there were the typical dishes: tourtiere (meat pie), cretons (a spiced pork pâté) and fiddleheads–a Maine springtime delicacy. Honestly, I despised all of those things and turned my nose up whenever they arrived at the table. But the meals I loved from my mémère’s kitchen were homemade Mac and Cheese, Pastrami on Rye and Crepes with homemade Apple Sauce.

I have fond memories of watching cooking shows on PBS with my grandmother and my parents such as The Frugal Gourmet and watching Jacques Pépin and Julia Child. After watching a show, I’d go outside to play and then I would make mud pies while pretending I was starring in my own cooking show. As I got older, I would continue with my cooking show play but with real food. I usually would come home from school and make eggs.

Once I left home at 18, I really learned how to cook, and as The Food Network developed, so did my skills in the kitchen. That’s when I realized my mom and stepmother weren’t the best chefs in the world. I was becoming the better cook. (For the record, my dad started cooking once he retired and he’s become quite the culinarian.)

For many years, I was a homemaker and making dinner every night was part of my daily challenge. I had three children to raise and trying to keep them healthy. I pored over cookbooks and websites. I think I did okay with my boys as they all turned out pretty well with the ability to try most everything. My oldest son is about to start culinary school.

In my past relationships, I was always the best cook and did most of the cooking and baking. I had confidence in this particular area. Until I moved in with John.

John is a better cook than me. He has more knowledge than I do and, because of that, I’ve learned a lot in the past year. My tastebuds have been open to a whole other world thanks to John’s mom and her cooking and their culture.

Needless to say, John and I eat well at our place.


2 thoughts on “Cooking History

  1. I liked reading that little snippet into how you both began your cooking journey. While I love watching and learning from cooking shows, I can’t seem to replicate it in the kitchen. I don’t know if you know, but a lot of the older Vietnamese generations don’t measure any ingredients. They just know. As someone who doesn’t cook very well to begin with, it’s tough for me to “season as needed”. So lucky that you both know how to cook well and have the confidence to attempt new recipes. If you head to Prague, please let me know how to perfect Czech goulash (much different than the more popular Hungarian version)!

    1. Hi Tammy! So sorry we didn’t see your comment until now. Thank you for reading and commenting. It sounds like a challenge about Czech goulash. 😉 We shall do some research! -Carissa

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