Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Questions for Chef Stephanie

Stuffed cremini mushrooms with truffled white beans

1. How did you become a Chef?

I have worked in restaurants since I was a teenager, but I did not attend a formal culinary school. I learned to cook in the kitchen, "jumped right into the fire" if you will...the term "self-taught" doesn't resonate with me because I know who I have learned from, Bella Frye of the legendary Whole Earth Restaurant in Santa Cruz, CA, and Eric Tucker of Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, CA. I have also learned so much from all the other chefs I have had the privilege to slice and dice alongside. I learn everyday I pick up my knife and try something new.

Seared scallops with red pepper relish

2. What do you love the most about cooking?

I love the creative process and there are a few ways that I experience that.  First, when I meet new clients, we engage in a collaborative process of designing a menu that reflects who they are. It might include their ethnic backgrounds, places they have traveled or family traditions. Every menu is as unique as the people I am working with. Second, when I get into the kitchen to cook for an event, I have the opportunity to work with amazing seasonal ingredients. My challenge, as a chef, is to create the best possible food I can. Thankfully, the bay area makes that pretty easy for me!

3. Why "green"?

For as long as I can remember I have had an "environmental awareness" and that is visible in my lifestyle and my business. It makes sense to me to eat food that is less processed and not sprayed with chemicals and I want to feed my clients that quality of food. I love seeing how much compost vs. trash is generated during a prep shift, trash is so minimal! In my experience, it doesn't take additional effort to run a business that is environmentally responsible and I find it rewarding

Heirloom tomato salad with feta cheese and fresh basil

 4. Do you only cook for weddings?

I wish... people are so happy at weddings! Actually most of my events are celebrations and include Birthday parties, Anniversary parties, Baby showers, Bat name it. If there is something to celebrate, food is usually involved, and I am happy to provide it. Planning a wedding menu does offer a unique opportunity to work with clients in an intimate way and feeding people on such a memorable day is pretty special. I strive to create dining experiences that are equally memorable.

Mango and beef rolls with goat cheese and fresh mint

5. What is your role in Locally Grown Weddings and how do you work with the team?

As the Caterer in Locally Grown Weddings, I often meet clients at the beginning of their wedding planning process. This gives me the opportunity to introduce them to the rest of the team which typically results in a huge sigh of relief for them. When they find all these talented people on a creative team that has experience working together, it offers not only a convenience, but a guarantee that their wedding will be unforgettable and unique.

Locally Grown Weddings Featured Members:
Aurora Meneghello, Photographer

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