About SamanthaFoodGeek

Who are you?
I’m a private culinary teacher and food and cooking ‘advocate’. I am first and foremost a Food Geek. I love to learn what I can about all aspects of food- the origin of food traditions, the farming and production of food, and most importantly, the consumption of food. In every aspect of my culinary career, I made sure I worked at learning different parts of the food industry.

When did you decide to be a cook?

I did the conventional thing and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and was working at an Internet startup in the early 2000′s. I decided to take a leap and pursue a career in Culinary Arts after I got laid off at the startup. It was kind of dramatic- I walked up to the front door and found it was bolted shut. There was a letter taped to the door informing us that the Board of Directors decided that we were no longer a viable company and that we were all out of a job. I had survived the 3 or 4 rounds of lay-offs earlier that year so this news left me and my co-workers shocked and saddened.

I did some soul searching and decided that I needed to do something I ACTUALLY enjoyed, regardless of the paycheck. I had always loved to cook and was a pretty capable home cook. I took the plunge, moved to San Francisco with my boyfriend, now husband, and enrolled in California Culinary Academy. The rest as they is history. The culinary field is hardly romantic, it has been full of hard work and stress, but I’ve loved every bit of it. I’m proud of my many burns and scars that I earned in this honorable and sometimes misunderstood profession.

Who are your culinary heroes?

James Beard, Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, Anthony Bourdain (even if he has sold out!) and of course- Julia Child. I love the works of Michael Pollan, Mark Kurlansky, Ruth Reichl. I’ve just discovered the works of Elizabeth David.

What are your obsessions?

Food anthropology is my latest obsession. As a Filipino, I have always believed that our cuisine is a case study for how politics and anthropology have affected cuisine. Just don’t call it fusion! (I hate that word- along with ‘gourmet’!). I’ve discovered urban homesteading- growing your own  food, making your own cheese, pickles, preserves and the like. I’m contemplating hunting and foraging next!

Where have you worked?
I started by working in a dive bar, frying chicken and barbequing ribs before attending culinary school. I have since moved onto among other places a test kitchen where she worked on things like creating a new kind of salad dressing and most recently, working in a high-end restaurant creating beautifully rendered dishes with ingredients direct from small, local farmers.

Specifically, I have worked at Whole Foods, the Executive Dining Room at LucasArts(I served pasta to the guy who played Chewbacca!), Center for Culinary Development, Boulette’s Larder(we made lunch for Lidia Bastianich, Gary Danko, Charles Phan and  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon!), Mission Language Vocational School and Taste Catering, not necessarily in that order. I chose each place based on a set of skills I wanted to acquire and I’m fortunate that I was able to learn a lot.

What do you like to eat?
How much time have you got? It’s better to ask me what I DON’T like to eat. And that is bugs and reptiles.

What would you eat on your death bed?
Kent Mangoes, 65% Dark Chocolate, Cheetos, a Cheeseburger and a Gin and Tonic to wash it down.

What are your favorite flavors/textures?
sour, salty, crunchy and chewy

What do you like to cook?
Whatever I feel like cooking at the moment. Although I tend to gravitate towards Mediterranean-type food because the ingredients are similar to what we have in California.

What’s your philosophy?
All food is good and everyone can cook.

What’s the goal of your website?
I want to share my experiences as a food ‘enthusiast’ and teacher. I’d like to feature food, people, places and things with cooking techniques and occasionally a recipe. I’m not a food photographer or blogger, so sometimes my photos aren’t fantastic and I’ still trying to get the hang of this HTML thing. Thanks for understanding!

Schmaltzy thing to say:
I believe EVERYONE can and should cook. As Lidia Bastianich said- cooking is part of being human.

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