A Newly Crowned Chef | Arts & Culture

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A Newly Crowned Chef
A Newly Crowned Chef

Cooking as a business is brand new to me. I am risking a lot by throwing that out there but it's true.

Over two years ago I was grooming myself for a life in the medical field. I was convinced that there was something truly brilliant out there for me and that I was going to be someone very important. Then I met my husband: got married, had a baby, moved to Maine and forgot about all that crazy stuff. What I found here was enough to distract me from everything I once thought important. Beautiful scenery, a slower pace and more importantly, a greater connection to the food I eat. I started, much like a mad woman, trying all recipes out in the kitchen. I held huge dinner parties, an annual harvest party, I planted a garden, I bought some chickens and now, I am selling my food to all of you.

In this economy am I worried? Sure I am. You bet. But something really wonderful happened this past weekend and a little tiny light bulb went off.

I participated in the 20 Mile Meal in Cape Elizabeth which is a group of chefs preparing food that was sourced from no more than twenty miles away. The ticket proceeds go toward programs set up to teach sustainable agriculture practices and make good food available to those who need it. Right up my alley. Since I entered the event so late I was given a bag with, some questionable ingredients. By questionable I mean, a few things I can't bring myself to eat. I inherited: pork shoulder, swiss chard, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes & fingerling potatoes. This is when I became nervous. But none the less I pulled together a menu.

Smoked pulled pork with house made maple bourbon bbq sauce, served over swiss chard & caramelized onions as well as rustic fingerling potato salad with blood orange olive oil. Beside that was fresh brushetta crostini topped with house made basil oil.

I spent the whole day Saturday preparing my food and arrived on Sunday feeling more nervous than I ever had been in my whole life. Especially when I saw the caliber of chefs that were around me. I was hauling in home equipment, a sauce pan here or there and a large Nike bag filled with all sorts of stuff I thought I might need. These people had chef's jackets, multiple burners for cooking, restaurant style containers and sous chefs. I had my husband and a New York Fire Department sweatshirt, which was dirty from the rain. Also, my hair was crazy and I wore Nike sneakers instead of rain boots. I also was not confident in my knife skills with all these experienced people staring at me. (Even though they weren't) I mean, these people were from the places I love to eat. They were people I look up to. Yikes. And, the guy next to us from the East Ender in Portland was serving the same thing: pulled pork.

What I found however, was that once people started to trickle in, they didn't care where I was from. They didn't want to know how experienced I was in this particular field. They wanted to eat my food. When I told them what I was serving they went from reluctant to overjoyed. The look on their faces instantly gave me the confidence to talk about my business with all the passion I have in my soul. The feedback was incredible. People were sending people to my table to try what I was putting out there. The best part was that the chef next to me ended up being really interesting to chat with, he also shared his food and it was one hundred percent different than mine, so I was safe. It brought me back to what the day was really all about: helping people out who can't eat like most of us. I don't need to create an elaborate menu with ingredients that cost an excessive amount of money and I don't need a culinary degree to make people happy. Good food is good food and it can bring people together in groups to do really fantastic things like pay $40 to eat a humble meal on behalf of someone else. The day was a success and I am proud to own my title as Chef & Owner of Eat Your Plate, a place that will never forget what it is really all about. You have to cook with gratitude to make a difference. No matter what, where or how.

Eat Your Plate Bake Shop

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