How many years have you been in business in LA?
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
There was no plan to start teaching cooking classes. I was a stay-at-home mom and I wanted to go back to work, but I wanted to do something that would help people support their own health. I didn’t really know what that would look like. At the same time, I was in a cooking group with some friends, and a chef came to teach us recipes every month. I was always telling people how to change the recipes to make them healthier. The group asked me to take over the class and I eventually realized that by teaching people how to cook from scratch, that was the first step in taking control of their health and that of their family. It started with that one group and quickly grew to teaching 4 days/week.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I consider myself a cooking instructor first and foremost (as opposed to a food blogger) and I am not trying to show up and just teach a couple of recipes. I am trying to motivate people to be committed to cooking from scratch as much as they can. From interacting with my students every day, I have learned what the most common obstacles are for the home cook, and I tailor my lessons to address those. I also am teaching them the underlying formula in a recipe, so they can tweak it multiple ways at home; I highlight the nutritional value of foods and what foods are the most nutrient dense; and how to properly use their kitchen appliances. I have also worked so hard to learn how to make changes to any recipe according to someone’s allergies, dietary restrictions and/or personal preferences.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
I am very passionate about my mission and I show up with high energy every day. I also do my homework. I try to keep up with trends in nutrition and everything kitchen-related so that what I teach is current. This is LA, after all!
How do you positively impact your clientele?
I can’t think of anything more important than someone feeling empowered to eat better and cook more from scratch with whole foods.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Observing those Ah-ha! moments in class when someone realizes, “that’s it? I can do that!”
What is your favorite secret LA spot?
I am obsessed with the vegan menu at Criag’s, especially the vegan ice cream which is the best I’ve ever had!
How do you benefit mamas?
Raising a family is hard work. Having little ones dependent on you for so many things, not having enough time, trying to appease different palates – it’s all super challenging. I am giving them the tools to feed their families with the least amount of stress as possible.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
One mom wrote to me that she had tears streaming down her face as she wrote me an email which described how she single-handedly made Thanksgiving dinner for her entire family, including her parents and her in-laws and she did a great job. She never thought she could ever accomplish something like that given the fact that when we met she couldn’t boil water. I cry every time I think about it.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
My friend Alyson Cayne in New York runs a cooking school and café called Haven’s Kitchen where I taught a class this summer for fun. She gets it. She knows how to break it down and demystify cooking.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
“Don’t worry so much.” I always remember that whether I screw up something when I’m cooking or one of my kids is struggling with something. There’s almost always a solution if you want there to be. And “always wear sunscreen!”
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Schedule time in your day for what is important to you and be organized. For me, that means making a dinner planner at the beginning of the week so I never wake up in the morning not knowing what I am making for dinner. Then I can prep a little while I am making breakfast and school lunch and in between coming home from school and leaving for soccer practice. It also allows me to not be a slave to grocery shopping. Twice a week is my max.