Photograph courtesy of Food Network Chopped Teen Tournament
Being fourteen means there are constantly things going on in my life. I’m always doing something—whether it’s guitar, piano or EMT shifts, it’s something different every day. However, there is always one constant: coming home to a pantry full of ingredients and cooking. It’s actually quite a funny story how I got into cooking. I was around seven years old and, like any other seven year old, spent much of my free time watching television. My parents were always bugging me to watch more “educational TV,” so one day I flipped to the Food Network and I was hooked (I’m sure the mouthwatering desserts on the screen helped).
I remember being in total awe of the mysteriousness of food and the fact that a mere five or six ingredients could be made into a gourmet meal. The first official dinner I made was pan-seared talapia with carrot chips. I was so excited! I took photos, shared with the family and could not wait to eat it.
Fast-forward seven years and here I am cooking gourmet meals on a nightly basis. Just like when I was seven, I am still drawn to the mysteriousness of food. So much, in fact, that I never cook two of the same meals because I don’t use recipes. I believe cooking is an art, and in order for me to express this, I need to have full reign over my ingredients. One of my favorite things to do is to go down to the Westport Farmers’ Market, get a bunch of ingredients, come home and challenge myself to make a dish using what I bought. Personally, I like going to the Farmers’ Market because it gives me a chance to know where the food I buy is coming from and make sure I get the freshest ingredients.
Many people ask what my style of food is. I don’t like to say one particular region of food, like Italian or Indian, because I like to cook everything. My style is classic dishes with a modern twist. I think this pretty much covers everything I cook, from steak to tofu and everything in between. When someone asks what this means, I usually just give them an example of one of my favorite meals to make. Instead of the classic steakhouse dinner with mashed potatoes and a green, I like to make a marinated hanger steak with roasted potatoes and sautéed broccolini with a chimmichurri sauce. I know, sounds like a lot, but it’s easier than it sounds.
Truth? The real reason I like cooking, besides the food part of it, is seeing the look on people’s faces after they’ve eaten a meal I prepared—it’s priceless. There is nothing in the entire world that could replicate that feeling. And it’s even better when its your family who is enjoying the food that you made. That’s why every Sunday evening, my family has “Sunday Night Dinner.” We all gather around the table together, with no phones or other distractions and enjoy one another’s company. I took over the cooking for this dinner and I genuinely enjoy watching them enjoy the food I make. Food brings people together like nothing else and that is really what I enjoy most about cooking.