How would you describe your culinary style?
I grew up in a household where the cuisine tended to skip from continent to continent – not so much straight-on hybrid dishes so much as “Tonight we’re having Ethiopian, tomorrow Brazilian and French the next night.” It was invigorating to learn that all ingredients, regardless of rarity or obscurity, were fair game in my own kitchen. I cook most passionately when I get to bring these ingredients and techniques together into a unified, cohesive dish. To many chefs, the term “hybrid” as it refers to the blending of cultural dishes is a four-letter word, but for me, tasty is tasty and that’s all that matters. Not to mention the fact that my ethnic makeup spans the globe, so it’s only fitting that my culinary style is a blend of cultures as well.
What is the main source of inspiration for your recipes?
Inspiration is everywhere, particularly in the digital age. I’m most excited by all of the culinary communities out there that bring together food nerds like myself (What up, Yummly!) and spend a great deal of time waxing poetically about ingredients with them online, Facebook especially and Pinterest, too. Cookbooks are still a source of joy, and my ultimate love is having the rare chance to catch my buddy Tim Ma (chef and owner of Maple Ave Restaurant) to collaborate on a recipe together. It’s rare that you meet a foodie friend that inspires you to keep pushing boundaries and work harder, and in that sense, Tim is my culinary BFF.
If you could have one food while stranded on a desert island, what would it be?
Truffle oil. Hell, truffle anything. If I could makeout with a bottle of truffle oil every night, I’d do it. Not sure my husband would let that one fly.
For someone new to your blog, which recipe do you recommend they try first?
One of my favorite aspects of Spice or Die is that it encompasses recipes for cooks of all skill levels – for newcomers, I’d want folks to get their hands dirty with recipes that celebrate my passion for the cuisine of Italy. For newbies just getting used to putting together composed menus and getting all of the timing and techniques right, I’d recommend my Ode to Orvieto, a menu dedicated to the foods that I feasted on when I lived in that sleepy little town nestled between Rome and Florence. The menu features simple classics such as pasta with porcini mushrooms, beef tenderloin with tender artichokes and homemade chocolate-hazelnut gelato, plus a recipe for limoncello that’ll light up your night!
What is your ultimate guilty food pleasure?
Easily, it’s spaghetti carbonara eaten straight out of the pot, barefoot in my pajamas, without ever leaving the kitchen. Preferably with someone I love nearby.
Yummly is an oasis in a sea of recipes – it’s for foodies who are fearless in the kitchen and are seeking a way to conquer the globe, one new ingredient at a time. Yummliness is far beyond deliciousness – it’s when you see a recipe so good, you’re compelled to craft it for yourself as soon as possible. And the art of making that dish for yourself is just as soul-satisfying as taking that first bite.