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I was born and raised on a farm in northeastern Iowa. My dad was a farmer and my mom was a school teacher. I had three older brothers. From as far back as I can remember, my mom either went to summer school or taught summer school. At 5 years old, she would leave me printed notes about what time to start the oven, exactly what to do with the food to either make my dad and brothers lunch or bake cookies for them or bake a cake. It was my job on the farm and I loved every minute of it. Then when I was slightly older she let me get a recipe of the month from Betty Crocker. This was a big deal because we never had any money and I think it cost $8 a month for these recipes. She would let me make a recipe each week but sometimes the recipe didnʼt fit our budget so my mom would make me change the recipe to meet our budget!! Because we were on a farm we always cooked with awesome beef and pork, fresh vegetables from the garden, and fresh eggs from the chickens. This is something that has stayed with me. I believe in fresh ingredients and know where your ingredients come from.

When I moved to Des Moines, I started waiting tables at different restaurants just to pick up things. Then I started working in the kitchen at Des Moines Golf for a short period. I took cooking classes from a woman that had cooked Julia Child and gone to cooking school in France. In 1997/1998, I got a job on the kitchen line at Carpe Diem. It was so hard but I loved it. I bought the restaurant in the fall of 1999. It was the best year of my life. I not only had a restaurant but also had a baby girl. I left the restaurant to raise my daughter, Olivea.

Olivea and I have always cooked together. She loves it as much as I do. When she was little, we always had big parties with her friends families and made sure there was always a big spread of beautiful food! She knew I missed cooking for people and encouraged me to get out and do it again. She kept saying you need a restaurant again, mom. Lots of money and as a single mom, I couldnʼt do it. I started doing cooking classes with friends. I would have a hostess each month, they would pick the menu (3 recipes) and I would bring the food, recipes and make them dinner!

I enjoy this so much that it has turned into a business. I love making in home dinner parties for groups of 8 to 20. I love the cooking classes. I get to see beautiful homes, meet awesome people but most of all, I love seeing the joy on peoples faces when they eat great food made with quality ingredients.

I love Des Moines’ ethnic grocery stores. I love our farmers market. I finally have my own garden each summer. I buy beef and pork from a local farmer. I feel like its come full circle. Iʼm teaching my daughter what my mom taught me with the same ingredients.

Cooking Classes

One of the great benefits of doing frequent cooking classes is meeting new people!  And typically those new customers find other groups of friends to gather for more cooking classes!  We keep the environment relaxing, fun and as interactive as you want it to be.

DSC_7707We first determine what it is that you want to learn how to cook or bake. If there isn’t anything, I start asking questions regarding the types of foods they might realize they want.  We also discuss any foods that we might need to steer away from. From there, we build DSC_7765a menu of typically 3-4 recipes. Cooking classes can be with a group of friends or with couples. We have done all kinds. We have celebrated the holiday’, people’s birthdays, and frequently nothing at all!  Just a great opportunity to gather friends and have some fun in the kitchen.

Once the menu has been decided, we talk about what cooking utensils will be needed. If the hostess doesn’t have something, we will bring ours if needed. Otherwise there is usually a good substitute. We bring the food and the group supplies their own beverages during the night. We serve the meal and do all the clean up!  Our goal is to teach some techniques, serve a wonderful meal and have a ton of fun!

DSC_7736Cooking classes typically range from 6 to 12 guests.  However, we have done them with as few as four guests and as many as 70 guests!  It depends on the venue so please inquire as we are very adaptable!

Personal Chef

When Olivea was little we entertained a lot.  From Easter egg hunts to back-to-school parties, I love working with a hostess and planning a theme and a menu for a party.  Like cooking classes, I do all the shopping and bring the food with me.DSC_7741

Whether its a casual grill out -  grilled romaine lettuce, grilled cedar plank salmon and grilled peaches with homemade ice cream,  or a Cinco de Mayo party -  Ceviche, smoked chicken enchiladas and chipotle mushrooms with flan as dessert, we will pick a fun menu!  I work with all sizes of dinner parties.

I can accommodate cocktail parties hosting up to 100 guests.  I will assist in the planning of the menu.  On the day of the event, I will head to your location and do the food preparation  Once I have served the guests, I do all the cleaning up.  The allows the hostess to have fun with her guests and wake up to a clean kiDSC_7759tchen the next day!  Because I am there when the guests start arriving, I can answer any questions that might come up in regards to ingredients.

I believe in buying local and cooking seasonal.  I encourage menu planning around the season.

Kids Cooking Classes

My daughter, Olivia, has been to a number of cooking classes with me and has cooked with me all her life.  One time we watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Olivia saw what chicken nuggets were made of – she vowed never to eat another one!  She has spent a lot of time trying to convince other kids to not eat them.  She has decided she wants to have healthy cooking classes with kids and has accepted me as her assistant in these classes!

The kids cooking classes are done in the same way.  We recently did a kids cooking class and made Spring rolls, Asian ravioli with a red curry coconut sauce and Nutella wonton cookies.  The kids had so much fun and were able to make their parents meals.  I work with the parents on setting a menu and finding out about food allergies.  Its nice to have kids try new foods and easy when they are helping in the preparation.