You don’t meet many people in the culinary industry who just wake up one day and decided to start cooking for a living. Those with a true passion for cooking and food typically got their start at an early age, learning from their parents or grandparents, or even by watching some of the great chefs on TV. But it is a special bond between a grandmother and her grandchild, where inspiration and true passion grow into a love of all things culinary. Many of the great chefs of our time get their inspiration from their grandmothers, and even use recipes that have been passed down for generations.
Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone recently opened a restaurant in Beverly Hills called Maude, which is named after his grandmother. According to Stone, his grandmother is the one who got him interested in food when she taught him how to make her homemade fudge. “I always remember sitting around the dining room and smelling her getting the roast dinner ready. She’s been gone now for seven or eight years now, but I wanted to call the restaurant after her to keep those memories alive.” – LAist
Executive Chef Stephen DeMarco of Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center in Blue Ridge Virginia, also started cooking with his grandmother and mother at an early age. According to DeMarco, he would watch them pull leftovers from the fridge and “throw a meal together and have it taste and look great.” Even now, after more than 28 years of experience in the industry, owning his own restaurant consulting firm and serving as a private chef in New York, DeMarco remembers where he got his start, and how he learned to love food from his grandmother.
Chef Kyle Fowlkes, executive chef of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Hampton, Virginia, says that his Nana is at the heart of everything he cooks. He remembers cooking in the kitchen with her when he was 4 or 5 years old, making pound cakes, pies and fried chicken. Now, he uses her recipes in his own kitchen at the Cypress Grille Restaurant in the Embassy Suites. Fowlkes’ grandmother is still inspiring him today, years after she taught him the basics of cooking, and his love of the craft is just as strong.
Did your grandmother have anything to do with your interest in food?
What would she say if she saw you in your chef uniform today? Where do you get your inspiration?