1. Please tell us a little more about yourself and Chefsallyjane.com.
I am a Midwestern girl who grew up living around the world and learned to love food as we traveled. To me, food and culture are intertwined and I continue to use culinary traditions as a way to penetrate and understand the places I’m lucky enough to travel to.
While I was living in London I started my blog chefsallyjane.com, as a way to tell stories about the recipes I create, share my foodie adventures, and interact with the larger world of food lovers out there.
Now I’m living in Amman, Jordan, and love being able to share stories with my readers about a place that’s so exotic and rich in culinary heritage.
2. Tell us a little more about the French Culinary Institute in New York City and your best times there.
I chose to study culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York City because a friend of mine had gone there and loved it. Being in the middle of that vibrant city with all of its different cultures was the perfect training ground for a chef.
It was an intensive six month program and I loved every minute of it! The absolute best part was realising that I had made the right choice, at age 32, to leave my desk job and get into the kitchen and train myself to become professional at what had always been a hobby for me.
3. Can you share a little from behind the scenes of being a food writer?
Being a food writer is second nature to me as I got my Masters of Fine Arts in non-fiction writing at Columbia University long before I went to culinary school.
The two go hand-in-hand. It’s tricky to get noticed as everyone who eats these days is really a food writer, but I’ve enjoyed contributing to various outlets like Today.com and Travel & Leisure Magazine.
Now I’m a columnist for a local Jordanian lifestyle magazine called Family Flavours and every month get to play with new ingredients to create recipes for a whole new market.
Being a foodie in Jordan is a relatively new idea and I appreciate being able to take local ingredients and use them in ways which are unfamiliar to the general population here.
4. What are your kitchen essentials?
I couldn’t live without my KitchenAid mixer and food processor, but I sort of believe that if you have a sharp chef’s knife and a pairing knife, you’re in business! I do love my microplane and spatulas are a must!
5. Do you use a dishwasher and would you recommend one?
We do have a dishwasher and after years of living without one I’m not quite sure what I did before! I can’t say that I recommend any one brand as we have always lived in rental properties and what we get is what we get. However, especially for cleaning all of my Tupperware and greasy pans, I can’t imagine anything better.
6. I loved your “Spanish Chicken Stew”. Your recipes a pure inspiration. What’s next? 🙂
Like so many of us I’m well into “Holiday” mode and am looking forward to creating dishes for this festive season.
It’s a tad frustrating here as things I associate with this time of year can be challenging to find (Brussels sprouts spring to mind). However, I guess that’s the joy of being creative – I’ll have to make do and just figure it out. Stay tuned!
7. Who is your favorite chef and why?
My favorite chef is probably Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
I was fortunate enough to work in her kitchen briefly and also helped with her Edible Schoolyard project which works to teach young children how to grow vegetables and fruit, harvest them, and then cook using the fruits of their labor.
I see her as a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement which is so popular now, and would love to be able to create a similar awareness and appreciation for good, fresh ingredients here in Jordan.
8. A message to your fans and readers.
I am grateful to all of my readers, near and far. At the beginning it felt a little like I was writing into a void, but now I have regulars who comment and interact from all over the world.
My goal is to make cultures that seem so different from our own feel just a little bit more familiar because of the stories attached to their food. We all eat, share a table with our friends and family, pass recipes down from one generation to the next.
In a world where there feels like there’s so much hatred and distrust, remembering what we have in common might just help bridge the gap.
That’s what I hope, at least.