Most people cook the food they eat.
Some people make really amazing food.
Only a few of those people have made a career of making amazing food.
The rest have a different title in their "about me" section, on their business card or their name badge.
Some of my favorite cooks and bakers are parents, teachers, traders, managers, thinkers, business owners, hourly employees, scientists, librarians, planners, engineers, doctors and nurses.
Stop reading for a minute and think about that.
The telemarketer that interrupts your dinner might make the best damn brisket in the world. The lady in HR might have dreams of walking away from her job to bake cakes straight out of your own dreams. The nurse taking care of your little one might make some amazing lemon rosemary mascarpone cookies that would soothe your soul.
If we are not what we "do" but we are what we eat and it is our actions when no one is watching that define us - well, then, (1) we need to stop reading fortune cookie pop psychology and (2) we are meeting the makers of good food all of the time.
Delicious food is all around us.
Cooks and bakers are everywhere.
It is being prepared by people that have already finished a full day of work when they walk into their kitchens. It is being preserved by folks after the kids are tucked into their beds. It is being served in homes, lunch boxes and tupperware. It is budgeted, considered, sourced, created, shared in their free time.
If we expect to eat well only when we are in a highly rated, frequently reviewed restaurant, we are missing some of the most incredibly delicious meals created by passionate, even slightly obsessed, cooks and bakers.
I'm sharing some of my favorite talented, fascinating, generous cooks and bakers in this series of blog posts. It is up to you to woo them, befriend them, or just ask for a sample of their wares. Or strike up your own conversations with the hairdresser, your accountant, that clerk, that nurse...
I met him when I took a bite of a cookie and needed to know the person that baked them.
They are lemon rosemary mascarpone cookies and they are making my mouth water just thinking of them.
And after I heard Scott talking about some vodka infusions and posting some menu ideas on Facebook and seeing the jams and jellies that were being put up in his kitchen, I knew I had to know more about his experiments and about him.
I asked a stranger if he had time to talk. He did. We ate. He sent me home with fun samples.
I am totally going to make him be my friend.
Me: You grew up in a world of high volume family meals and preserving. Were there any shrinking pains as you transitioned to smaller, high quality meals and lower production preserving?
Scott: Oh, most definitely. I can't tell you how many times I've had to freeze or toss leftovers. Growing up in a large, not-so-wealthy family I learned to be a bargain shopper and my grocery list was based on sales and quantity pricing. Now, it's much more driven by the events in my life, recipes, the seasons and individual ingredients. Over the last 3 years, I've grown quite accustomed to using fresh ingredients, focusing on local, seasonal, organic and sustainable products where I can. I'm not perfect, nor do I think anyone has to be. In my opinion, cooking--and life for that matter--is all about striving for something better, thinking bigger than yourself, experiencing something new, incorporating your community and slowing down enough to enjoy the ride. Food is a requirement of human life so why not enjoy it?
Me: When did you start offering private cooking/nutrition classes?
Scott: It was the spring/summer of 2010 during the transition time between passing my state nursing boards and starting my first job at Nationwide Children's Hospital. I kicked around the idea after a few friends suggested it. Then, I threw it out to the world of social media and got a pretty good response. It's tough since my kitchen is small and therefore the classes are as well. I've spoken with a few people about cooking in other locations so we'll see where that goes. For now, I'm not putting a schedule of classes out, but I expect to do so in the late fall--after the wedding. ;o) In the mean time, I'm available for classes based on whatever people want to learn.
Me: What does perfection look like in your kitchen?
Scott: In my kitchen, I don't think it exists. I'm actually quite pleased with imperfection as it's a sign of being home made, of being personal and of leaving room for personalized interpretation. With respect to food, perfection lies in the eyes, in the nose and on the tongue of the beholder. A lot of the truly magnificent things I've created have been complete and total accidents. I look forward to making many more.
Me: What does it mean to you to be a "foodie"?
Scott: I think it means only that I have a deep passion for food--how it's grown, where it comes from, how it's prepared and how it tastes to me and those to whom I'm serving it. I'm not in the camp of thinking that my own tastes and preferences are superior to anyone else's. That's a good way to turn people off of caring about food.
Me: You don't have a blog, but you should. Discuss.
Scott: Ugh, I have been told this soooo many times. In sum, I'm great at starting things, but keeping them going is most certainly not my strong suit. I think it's part of my Generation XY short attention span. Plus, while I occasionally have great things to share with the food world there are so many other food & gardening blogs that I see as more interesting and/or important. All that said, I could definitely use a recommendation or two on a simple, easy-to-manage, free blog site.
Me: What are you currently experimenting with in your kitchen (or bar)?
Scott: Ha! Chad would tell you I'm ALWAYS experimenting with something! Goes back to my relatively short attention span. Vodka infusions were a recent project, inspired by the peach-cucumber one I tried at Surly Girl. Canteloupe-mint was my favorite with strawberry-basil a close second. Sweet corn-blueberry wasn't the greatest success, but I'm still playing with ways to use it. We had a grilled pizza dinner party for Memorial Day and the vodka infusions were quite the hit. Now that my herbs are proliferating like mad, I plan to play with ways to incorporate them in recipes in an effort to reduce or eliminate the salt as a way of helping the families of my patients--kids with congenital heart defects/disease.
Me: What food or drink eludes you - what is missing from your life and haunts your belly?
Scott: Cilantro. Don't string me up; it's genetic! This article was the best 30th birthday present I could have asked for since I finally had an answer for my inability to enjoy the herb. Ironically, coriander (seed of the cilantro plant) is one of my favorite spices. Go figure.
Me: Was there an experience that changed the way you thought about food?
Scott: I think it's more of a collection of experiences than a single one. Some that stand out in my mind are: tasting a balsamic reduction for the first time, trying my first crêpe in Paris, hosting/researching for themed ethnic dinner parties, learning to love olives, watching Good Eats, taking a butter-making class with Warren from Snowville Creamery, seeing Food, Inc., Ingredients & King Corn and tasting the incredible flavor combinations that Jeni's puts together.
Me: What is your favorite "secret" (non-mainstream) food or drink source in Columbus?
Scott: Personally, there's something absolutely enchanting about growing your own food. One day, I hope to create something along the lines of the marvelous experiment of Joe Vargo. Definitely inspirational!
Me: Favorite ice cream: brand and flavor.
Scott: It's hard to pin down a single flavor, but anything Jeni's does with goat cheese takes me to a special place.
Me: What does someone have to do if they want to try your vodkas or socca or schedule a cooking class?
Scott: That's pretty simple. Hit me up on Twitter and let me know.
While I work on the next post in this series, tell me: what is your favorite thing from Scott's kitchen? What is your favorite secret source for great food in this town?