Dana Slatkin ~ After the Effort Comes the Reward

In celebrating Women's History Month, 360 Cookware brings you female chefs of yesterday and today. May we present Dana Slatkin.

DANA SLATKIN is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, cookbook author, food blogger and popular cooking class teacher in Los Angeles. Her first cookbook, Summertime Anytime: Recipes From Shutters On The Beach, was published in 2008 by Clarkson Potter and is currently in reprint. Dana’s appearances include The Today Show, Extra!, Martha Stewart Radio, Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference in Long Beach, UCLA Festival of Books, and NAPTE. Dana is currently at work on her second cookbook and a television show. She is an online video personality for Crisco, Little Black Dress Vodka, Goodbite.com, and 360 Cookware. Follow Dana on her top-rated website and blog, Beverly Hills Farmgirl, at www.danaslatkin.com.

 

1. At what point in your life did you know you wanted a career in the culinary arts?

I had just graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric and took off for Europe with a backback to do some soul-searching. I ended up spending a lot of time hanging out in cafes because it was cheap entertainment. I Ioved the way they brought all walks of people together for a bite. That's when I knew I needed to be part of the food universe somehow. When I came home, I immediately applied to the Culinary Institute of America.

2. Have there been any mentors in your career? A female chef that inspired you?

Georges Blanc was the first chef I thought was a rock star. I fell in love with his cookbook, worte him a letter, and ended up working for him at his 3-star restaurant in Vonnas, France for nearly a year. I also loved David Bouley's first restaurant in New York, where I worked for a year. But those kitchens were very macho. I admire Suzanne Goin's cooking, and I like that she always has lots of females in the kitchen and front of house. I also admire Nigella Lawson for bringing sexy back to cooking.

3. Everyone seems to have that one ‘can’t live without’ piece in the kitchen, what’s yours?

I can't live without my favorite chef's knife from cooking school. It even has my name inscribed in the blade. I also love my salt and pepper grinders - they look like pens and are one-handed!

4. As a chef, we assume you are sampling delectable dishes all the time :) Name your absolute all time favorite.

That's cruel! So hard to chose one, but I'll have to go with Deep-fried Shiitake Mushrooms with Truffle Cheese.

5. As a female chef, what stumbling blocks have you experienced that were the most challenging?

I found that in many restaurant kitchens, male cooks assume you are useless until you prove them wrong. I had to out-chop, out-last and out-do them on a daily basis. Also, people don't trust chefs who are thin. I've been a vegetarian since I was 12, and even though I can eat like a trucker, most people don't believe I'm a chef until I feed them something wickedly delicious.

6. What’s Your Spice of Life?

Salt and Cinnamon  - they go with just about everything.

7.Even the pros have bloopers ~ Describe your biggest kitchen disaster for us.

I was working in France as an apprentice and didn't speak a word of French. I meant to ask the Chef if I could please "turn down the oven," but instead it came out as "may I please {bleep!} the oven?" All the French boys fell on the floor laughing.

8. To all the excited inspiring chefs out there, what is your best advice?

It's a saying I learned in France: "Apres l'effort, le recomfort." After the effort comes the reward. Be hungry, be humble, and be the best at what you do.

You can connect with Dana on her blog at www.danaslatkin.com or on Twitter @90210farmgrl