The Madison House Chef is a 40-something, professional, wife, mother of 2 who lives in the metro Detroit area.
How did you become the Madison House Chef?
Back in late summer of 1999, our family (then 3 of us) moved from an apartment into a beautiful 1936 house on Madison Street. In the midst of the physical moving, which took place over several days, our son, who was 3 at the time, would ask "Mommy, where are we having lunch, at the apartment or at The Madison House? Frequently, the answer was The Madison House. The name stuck on the house and even after having moved to Texas in 2006 we still refer to that home as 'The Madison House.'
The "Chef" moniker came about in this way: I used to wear an apron but quit doing so in the Madison House because the pocket on my favorite apron (one that belonged to my grandmother) used to get caught on the old pointy-end drawer pulls of the cupboards. If I'm not wearing some sort of covering, I end up wiping my hands on my shirt or dripping something on my front. I needed chef coats! Thus, my terrific husband bought me a couple of white chef's coats. On each coat he ordered an embroidered The Madison House in my favorite shade of green. From thence forth, I became known as the Madison House Chef.
Even now, my mother (who with my dad has a catering company) will call me and say, "This is Lake of the Woods Catering calling for The Madison House Chef."
Why did you start the Madison House Chef blog?
The MHC blog first launched on November 26, 2004 (the day after Thanksgiving and a day off) as an attempt to bring together a set of recipes that were posted on my very first family blog which had begun several months earlier in April 2004. I first posted the recipes for two reasons -- first, easy access. I have dozens of cookbooks and several packets of misc. pages of recipes, plus two recipe files. It seemed logical to post the ones I liked the best in a place where they were electronically stored and sorted for me. To this day I still go to my own website first to confirm an ingredient or an amount of a family favorite before going to my cookbooks. Second, I started this blog to share recipes with friends or family without having to rewrite or retype it each time.
Is food really worth blogging about?
Food is central to our home, our family and our relationships. Not only does the sustanance we share feed our bodies, it nourishes our relationships, shapes our world, and informs us of the culture within which we live or teaches us about others.
Each day we make it a point to sit down together for a family meal -- sometimes it's breakfast, more often it's supper and on Saturday we sit down for "The Meal" which occurs sometime between 2pm and 4pm. During what has become sacred time centered on a meal we touch base with one another, discuss what we're reading or what's in the news, reflect on school life and professional life, plan our travels, share our dreams, and 'connect' with one another. When it comes to food discussion, which frequently happens, we talk about nutrition (fish=brain food!), about the cultures of the new foods we're exploring or ingredient we're trying, about color, texture and taste, about food history (globally and their own) or food news. No topic is off limits at the table and it's not unusual for the four of us to linger after the meal is finished over another glass of wine or coffee or milk and continue our relationship building conversations.
When Ken and I go on a date, which we still do as frequently as possible even after nearly 25 years of marriage, we eat and talk, talk and eat. When we travel we often plan at least one meal that will create a new experience (Ethiopian food in Chicago, for example or Charlie Trotter's) and it's not unusual for us to include in a travel itinerary old favorites (Key Hole Bar or Lockview Inn) or places with special food memories. And, it's not unusual for us to rent a condo or a cottage (with a full kitchen naturally) when we're going to be in one spot for most of a vacation. That enables me to cook -- and thus relax.
Our kids have also caught the love for preparing, presenting and
eating quality food. Our son refuses to eat school cafeteria lunch and prefers to have me pack his lunch each day, and while other kids' parent may bring McDonald's or Whataburger when they come to have lunch with their kids our daughter wants me to bring sushi. They both enjoy cooking and baking and have been doing so since they were old enough to stand on a stool next to us and help by pouring ingredients into a bowl. When our son cooks, he's all about presentation and has come to learn that whether it's a 7 course dinner or a piece of cinnamon toast, it's much nicer and somehow tastes even better when thoughtfully placed and arranged prior to serving.
When we built our house, more hours were spent on planning and purchasing for the kitchen (including a built in temperature control wine refrigerator) than any other room in the house -- and we had a blast creating the perfect space to gather, to eat, to relax, to explore, to live and learn and enjoy!
Who taught you to cook?
My mother and my grandmothers were my earliest influences.
I do however, come from a family where everyone cooks -- often at the same time for the same event. (When we built our home in 2006 we made sure that a minimum of 3 people at a time could stand side by side at each of the countertops.) My husband, son, brother and father are also great cooks and my daughter, who is 7 years old, is now taking up the towel and apron and beginning her culinary apprenticeship under the guidance of my mother and myself.
What is your favorite piece of kitchen equipment?
My Henckel 9" Chef's Knife purchased in Munich, Germany.
A close second is my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
Paper or plastic?
Neither. I take my own canvas bags.
How can I contact you?
Email:(obviously omitting spaces and putting in appropriate symbols) OR leave a comment at the foot of the post about which you are inquiring.