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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Voice of the Chef...Deborah Shubert

I have been to Williams Sonoma several times now to attend the weekly cooking class (on Wednesdays). The Chef, Deborah Shubert, has made some truly wonderful dishes and to add to that she has a fun and exuberant personality. So, why not ask her some questions about her passion for food??? Well, here you go!

WITK: Where does your passion for food come from? Tell us your experience.

DEBORAH: My passion for food came from watching my mother prepare food for the family. Although my mother did enjoy cooking meals, it was not quite the same for me.
I have always enjoyed the process of “doing” and it gives me great joy to watch a loved one relish the meal that I’ve just prepared.
Although I have had two previous careers (in art education and specialty retail management for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.), it has not stopped me from continuing to pursue a career with food (which was really not planned). This career has proven to be continuously fulfilling for me because of interesting people that I meet as well as always learning something new.

WITK: What is the most essential kitchen gadget that you use?

DEBORAH: Aside from your hands, some sharp, good quality knives.

WITK: Do you have a secret ingredient that you use in the kitchen?

DEBORAH: Ingredients seem to come and go in waves, but one that I keep close by is smoked paprika. I also like to toast my spices, like cumin seeds for instance, which I grind.

WITK: What is your view on sustainability with reference to food?

DEBORAH: We are so lucky to be able to have accessibility to the products that support sustainability in our area, but until we solve this problem on a larger scale both politically and economically, I have to maintain a more common sense approach. I would view myself as being practical and holistic and find that it would be difficult, especially for a home cook with a limited budget, to be able to follow the path of 100 percent sustainability all the time. This means that buying fresh ingredients frequently may not always be possible, so the grocery store is used from time to time. The goal as I see it would be to not only be conscious, but also conscientious of making smart choices when choosing food products. World sustainability would be nice to have as the ultimate goal.

WITK: What are some of your favorite ingredients to cook with?

DEBORAH: The ingredients that I find inspire me are usually a fragrant vegetable or other appealing product. I try to find a great accompaniment to it. I really am driven by what kind of mood that I’m in. Examples of ingredients that I enjoy are quinoa grain salad with heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, and spinach along with a smoked paprika dressing.

WITK: Discuss any cooking/kitchen disasters.

DEBORAH: To quote me on this: “It only has to happen once”. One time, on one of my earliest catering jobs, I neglected to measure the oven at the site (which, by the way was not an incorrect measurement, but just hadn’t thought of it). This then led to the panic-filled scrounging through the client's pantry in order to find the adequate pans to transfer the lasagnas. Believe me, this was a lesson for the inexperienced caterer: never assume, ANYTHING!!

Thanks so much Deborah for sharing your story with WITK, now it's time to share with everyone else!

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