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Dee Gourmet Goddess Bio

Because I am a Registered Nurse, Certified Care Manager and Certified Health Coach, I know the importance of healthy eating.  Because of my Italian and farm roots, I know the meaning of “delicious and fresh”.  I have learned that healthy food does not have to be boring food nor does it have to be fat-free!

 

As a nurse health coach, I individually council people about healthy eating and show them ways they can prepare delicious meals even with a health condition that may limit their selections.  My background in Pediatrics has given me the opportunity to teach children and children’s groups kitchen safety and cooking for their age groups.  I also provide education to adults with disabilities and help them understand the link between their eating habits and chronic conditions such as diabetes.

 

My cooking career started at age 9, when I cooked my family a complete turkey dinner from scratch after watching a cooking show on television. As a child, I was fortunate to have one Grandmother who had the gift of making anything taste good and another Grandmother from Italy, who cooked the traditional dishes of her area. To round out things, my mom was a great cook and my Aunt Angie, well, nobody can cook like my Aunt Angie!! Needless to say, much of my time was spent watching, learning and getting my hands into the food! 

 

When I visited my Italian Grandmother, I learned about the cuisine of Abruzzi, where she was born.  When I was quite little, my sister, Aunts, Grandmother and I would sit around the old wooden kitchen table and make gnocchi, spaghetti and ravioli. I would watch as my Grandmother’s capable hands deftly made a well in the flour and mixed in the eggs with her fingers to make silky dough from which the delicate pastas were born.  I watched as my tiny Grandmother used a well-worn broom handle to roll out her dough.  I helped with hanging the pasta to dry for the afternoon meal and, when making ravioli, used the special cutter and a fork to form the ridges to which her luxurious sauce would cling.  When she rolled the gnocchi, we would cut diagonal dumplings. She would demonstrate how to make the dent in the dumpling with her forefinger to hold that incredibly rich, meaty sauce. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know it was called Bolognese sauce!  I practiced over and over to make that dent just the way she wanted it. The smells of her kitchen are still in my memory and sometimes, when I come in my front door, I say proudly to myself “Smells just like Nonna’s kitchen”.

 

My Mom’s mom had the knack of taking anything out of the refrigerator or garden and turning it into a fabulous feast! We were not wealthy, but we were rich in the blessings of the table. My great grandfather was a New Jersey “truck farmer” whose garden was full of magical things; succulent, meaty “Jersey” tomatoes, shiny black eggplant, green beans, lima beans, sweet corn, tender asparagus, onions, colorful peppers.  The bounty was immense and we would “put up jars” during the summer months, which was the phrase my Grandmother used for canning veggies to be used during the long, harsh New Jersey winters.  “Nanny” as I called her, was my best friend and taught me so much as I watched and helped her in her warm and welcoming kitchen.  There is not a meal that I cook that I do not give thanks to these remarkable women for their wisdom, kindness and patience in teaching their tiny apprentice the secrets of their kitchens.

 

As an adolescent and teenager, while other kids were outdoors playing or fooling around with their friends, I was glued in front of my Mom’s grainy black and white TV, watching Julia Child and writing down everything she said about food.  I saved my babysitting money and bought all of her cookbooks – I actually have the first paperback copy of “The French Chef Cookbook” that I bought in the early 1960’s!  After many years, I had the pleasure of meeting Julia at a restaurant and again at a Gourmet store.  At a book signing, I had Julia autograph one of my many earlier books and consider it one of my finest treasures!  Thank you, Julia.

 

I managed to make my way through several husbands and lovers and cooked for them all!  At one point, I married a man from Puebla, Mexico. His mother and sister were incredible cooks. As a young mother, I would sit and visit with them, gratefully drinking in their cooking techniques; everything from pico de gallo to Chilies en Nogada. True Mexican cuisine is one of the most underrated in the world. The flavors, textures and sophistication of spice-blends, puts this cuisine near the top of my list of favorites.  Thanks to Gina and Dona Cristina for your blessed gifts to me.

 

As I was attending nursing school and trying to make a living, whenever I had a spare minute, I found myself watching every television program about food that was out there and bought cookbooks on every cuisine imaginable.  I was a devotee of Food Network before it became popular, in the days when you had to send for a recipe with a self-addressed-stamped envelope!  I even remember this adorable young man named Emerill, who was introduced as a “Chef du jour”!  When I first saw him, he was preparing something called “Campfire Steaks” which were cooked on a cedar plank . . . . delicious!  I still make them from time to time. Thanks Emerill!!

 

My hunger to learn more about cooking great food led me to many opportunities including spending months with a Vietnamese cook who astounded me with combinations that transformed plain dishes into works of art; weeks with a French woman who taught me the nuances of French cuisine; and hands-on lessons from a Chinese man who taught me the art of wok cooking.

 

I had my own catering business, The Visiting Gourmet, and catered parties, weddings, showers and other events, and even prepared meals for bachelors who wanted to entertain their “favorite girl”. So many people were asking me for my recipes that I hand wrote a cookbook and had it bound to give to my friends for a Christmas present one year! I am still getting requests for it, but have now put it on a CD. I continue to refer to it frequently for old favorites. 

Gratefully, all these incredible experiences have led me to today.  I can’t wait to share with you some of the things I have learned and experienced.

 

Cooking great food is my passion.  Sharing with others is my gift.


I look forward to meeting you!

Chef Dee

 


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