About the Chef

I was raised in Austin Texas by parents who didn’t always have the means to put food on the table for my brother, sister and I. However, they were hard workers and had the intelligence and culinary skill to turn even the mundane into good eats. Dad raised rabbits and ducks and Mom was constantly pulling fresh tomatoes, okra, and greens out of the garden. Even during the leanest times we ate very healthy. Dad tackles every recipe with the same artistic perfection he does his carpentry. Some mornings when I was young, we would wake up to him making cinnamon rolls from scratch at the kitchen table. His overalls powdered with flour and the smell of cinnamon on his cheek as I kissed him good morning.

Mom was a wiz in the kitchen, too. She was never afraid to try something new. When circumstances found us with 105 rabbits one summer, she was even able to find someone to fry some of them at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken for a change of pace. She could also take anything Dad gave her and turn it into a delicious and rich casserole. Usually fresh veggies and meat in a creamy gravy topped with a flaky crust. They were often the first to go at church potlucks. Generosity was a word that was learned early growing up. Mom and Dad would often invite people into our home to share our meal. Friends from church, coworkers and even strangers who they met or happened to knock on our door to sell us encyclopedias or cleaning products.

My earliest memories of preparing food was for my family. Mom and Dad, at an attempt to interest us kids in cooking, was to have something called Restaurant Night during those long summers before we had a TV. We would make up menus, and take orders on pen and paper. Usually the offerings were nothing more ambitious than heated leftovers or ultimate sandwiches. However, I was hooked early on. Nothing felt better than the satisfaction of watching someone enjoy your food.

Admittedly, baked goods have called me since early on. Once I was taught how to use the stove, my family enjoyed waking up to fresh popovers on Saturday morning. It was a simple recipe found in a Junior Cookbook, yet held all the magic of ingredients that reacted to the heat in a way that captured my young imagination. The chewy crispiness of the fluffy popovers yielding to the butter and jelly they were slathered. Fresh baked popovers became a family breakfast favorite, and one way I was able to show my family how special they were to me.

We moved to north, to Dallas, in the early 80s. The promise of steady work for Dad who was a union carpenter didn’t pan out and my parents divorced in ’89. Dad changed careers and remarried an entire country, it feels sometimes. Josefina’s family is from Merida, Yucatan. Her mother, Maria was the best cook I’ve known in my life. I will never forget her love and hospitality for the people who came into her home. Her father, Efrain, my abuelo is chef at Allesio’s. One of Dallas’ oldest and most respected Italian restaurants.

I still live in Dallas. With my husband now, in the restaurant capital of the world. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. From my diverse family and history, my grandmother’s recipes, and now I am mostly inspired by the locally produced meat and produce. I believe that encouraging this generation to eat locally is essential to building a more healthy and sustainable human society for future generations. I am also inspired from the vast array of ingredients that can be obtained from every imaginable store in the DFW Metroplex. I am fortunate to love a man whose Arkansan palate, while not the most sensitive, enjoys most everything that comes out of my kitchen and rarely complains about lending a hand. Whether it’s to act as sous chef or even cleaning up.

Leave a Comment

Name and e-mail address are required. Your e-mail address will not be dislayed with your comment.