It all started with an Easy-Bake Oven...
I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't baking something for someone...
I got my Easy Bake Oven for Christmas when I was four years old and I've been sliding pans in and out of ovens ever since.
I was fortunate enough to have baking tutors in the family. I watched in fascination when my Irish Grandmother and her redhead cousin Julia popped out great rounds of fragrant Irish Soda Bread and yeasty loaves of White Bread that towered over the puny Wonder Bread slices that were relegated to "emergency housing" for grilled cheese and baloney sandwiches.
And the wondrous circular tubes of Date-Nut Bread, baked in empty coffee cans, so sweet and delicious that I forgot that I didn't even like dates!
I baked the little box-mix cakes that came with my oven until one day I won a cookbook at a grade school function and tried out a Baked-From-Scratch Recipe....
THE REST IS HISTORY.
From that time on
I 've always cracked Real Eggs,
whipped Real Cream,
creamed Real Butter,
hand-folded and taken all the many other steps it takes to make a Home Made Pastry. It takes time ........
BUT IT'S WORTH IT!
How Julia Child Changed My Life
I didn't just jump from my Easy Bake Oven into professional baking. Along the way came my career in public relations, specifically as a publicist for the
Chicago PBS TV station which
was at that time proudly pumping out Julia Child's
The French Chef, a groundbreaking TV show bringing French cuisine to the
TV-Dinner-Minded American audience.
I fell in love with Julia and
all things French,
subcribed to Gourmet Magazine and proceeded tobalance my public relations job with my intoxication with Cuisine,
my vicarious travels to France and
my home test kitchen.
Imagine my trepidation when I found myself in charge of a press party heralding the new season of The French Chef with Julia and her husband Paul in attendance.
Julia broke the ice and popped open a bottle of wine to "get the party rolling." Immediately I felt comfortable with this icon of the culinary arts and a spell was cast that took me from the world of promotion to the world of production.
After several fact-finding missions to The Continent I returned to the States and launched my culinary business
zeroing in on my early passion for pastry.
I met up with Julia Child again when
I was enrolled into Les Dames D'Escoffier, a women's culinary society that
was founded by Julia and other luminaries of the food and wine industries
With her imposing stature, and her curly red hair she became my second
Aunt Julia ,owing to her warmth and generosity and strong resemblance to my own Aunt Julia, my grandmother's relative who showed me how to make
the perfect loaf of bread.
My Grandmother (Center) and her kin (Aunt Julia on the left)
manning the Salad Station at one of Chicago's private clubs.