So after nearly two years, I've finally reached my 100th post. [Insert applause here]. I've spent the past week thinking about what I want to share on this monumental post and after some debate, I've decided that a single recipe wasn't the way to go. I wanted to take a moment and share a little bit about my culinary journey and where my love of food originated from. Looking back, I can appreciate every step I've taken along the way because I've never stopped learning.
From what I'm told, I wasn't ever fed prepackaged baby food as an infant. My mother bought a food mill and whatever they were having for dinner, so was I. At this point in my life, my father was in culinary school so dinner could have been anything from rack of lamb to duck l'orange. Needless to say, I started developing a taste for offbeat and usual flavors from an early age. I think that's a big contributing factor to my love of bold flavors as an adult - ginger, horseradish, truffle and the like.
When I was six years old, I remember the first time my mother told me I could order my own meal off of the adult menu [typically I shared a meal with my mother]. I ordered foie gras and baked stuffed lobster. I remember the idea that foie gras was liver being reiterated to be repeatedly and still being very much okay with it. I can actually remember the silky texture, the sweet-tart flavor of the apricot compote it was accompanied by and the rich, unctuous feeling of all the components coming together in my mouth. It's just crazy to me that something I ate 25 years ago can still be so vivid in my memory.
Fast forward sixteen years to the very first wine class I ever took. I had just been hired as a bartender with Carrabba's and as part of my training, they wanted us to have a basic understanding of their wine list. I think it was about 30 bottles, all available by the glass. That class was the first time I ever realized that different wines tasted, well, different. I learned about sangiovese that day. I have to admit, I was a bit taken back that there were that many types of grapes in the world and up until that day, sangiovese had no relevance to me. The Banfi Centine was my favorite wine on the list and I figured I should at least know something about it [I sold the crap out of that wine]. I thought I had a solid wine knowledge after that class. I mean, I tasted 30 different wines. Shortly thereafter, I came to the halting realization that I didn't know a damn thing. On the upside, this realization made me want to change that.
At 23, I began my career with Walt Disney World - the place I have to credit with the majority of my culinary enlightenment. While my experience there was both positive and negative, this was the period in my life when I truly realized how much I love to create amazing food. Disney gave me the opportunity to gain a formal culinary education, become a certified sommelier, truly appreciate the execution of fine dining and exposed me to food and wines that I never would have dreamed of otherwise.
My tenure began at the Contemporary Resort with the [former] Concourse Steakhouse and Chef Mickey's - a hub of classic, accessible American comfort food. Although I didn't find much culinary enlightenment here, it did pave the way to my next role, and "home" during my time with Disney - Animal Kingdom Lodge. The lodge featured a continental African cuisine and the largest South African wine collection in the United States; prior to my experience here, I'm not sure I knew South Africa made wine.
Throughout my two years at the hotel, I not only developed a deep appreciation for the wines of Cape Town, but as my education on the subject grew, I had the opportunity to contribute to the structure of the wine list.
Although I'm no longer working in a professional kitchen, my desire to learn and progress in my culinary and wind knowledge still continues. This desire to keep learning is a huge part of why I created The Tipsy Cupcake. Having an outlet to share my findings makes me want to experiment with my cooking on a more frequent basis and in turn, combine two things I truly love - writing and culinary arts.
Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me and taking an interest in what I have to say. This is only the first milestone in the life of the Tipsy Cupcake with many more to come, so please, stay tuned!