SC : WHY DID YOU BECOME A CHEF?

MB :"It fell into place; I cooked as a child.
Then I went to cooking school realized that I was good at it.
Actually, I never thought it would be a career.
Decided to take it to the max. Fun career, it's stimulating--
I've worked at very good restaurants. The challenge
and opportunities are mutually benefitting."



SC : WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A WOMAN CHEF?

MB : "I've taken the stance that it's more advantageous
to be a woman chef. It's a challenge like any other business.
Chefs do have to work longer hours then most people.
I haven't found any other challenges. Nothing specific.
I do what I do and have been well received."




SC : WHAT KIND OF INGREDIENTS DO YOU LIKE TO USE?

MB: "I incorporate ingredients that are from the region
of the Northwest, like seafood, apples, hazelnuts, etc.
I like to cook with the freshest ingredients available...
seasonal with a northwest edge. When I travel I bring what
I can back with me. I'm globally focused, in general,
I like to create my own vision. I bring spices back
from my travels, I like to recreate what I have had
in the country that I've just visited. I combine flavors--
get ideas and adopt them. An example would be a watermelon
salad like I had in Israel. Watermelon, feta cheese,
sumac and sage pesto."





SC : CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR TIPS WHEN USING SPICES?

MB: "Sure, always buy in small quantities and then replenish
when needed. They stay fresh that way. Spices get stale
quickly, so I suggest storing them in a sealed containers.
They usually last less than a year. "



SC : WHAT ABOUT HERBS?

MB: "Fresh herbs have more flavor than dried herbs.
When cooking you should use less fresh for dry.
An example would be fresh thyme, use half or
less for fresh than dried."


SC : YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRUIT ON YOUR MENU.
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO PICK FRUIT?


MB: "Smell it, touch it. You'll know if it's ripe.
Check it for bruises. Hands and your senses help
make a great cook. Food is all about taste;
smell--most important--don't be afraid. Dive in!"


SC : DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TIPS?

MB:"Yes, always have sharp knives. When entertaining, don't
do everything the last day. Plan, shop the week out,
don't make it so labor intensive. Do easy things,
use pre-packaged items like pasta. Use easy cooking methods.
Instead of sauteing a fish, roast it in the oven.
Roast a chicken, add vegetables and potatoes; it's a great,
easy meal. We have such busy lifestyles, make it easy for yourself.
Also, if you have kids, incorporate them into the preparing the food.

Food is simple, I try to put a new twist on things.
When shopping you don't have to buy the most expensive.
Get foods that keep well. For example get cabbage
(you can use Napa, green, purple or savoy) and roast it,
or saute it, or blanch it, and run it under cold water
to stop the cooking process. Then make a salad
with the cabbage, nuts, vinegar or
Thousand Island Dressing. Enjoy yourself."


SC : WHO INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN YOUR CAREER?

MB:"Barry Wine of The Quilted Giraffe. He instilled a sense of professionalism in me. He was a good mentor. Also, Gilbert LeCoze of Le Bernadin, we had a great
relationship; he let me into his world. He had the energy,
insight and drive to make a four-star restaurant."




SC : WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE MEAL YOU'VE EVER HAD?

MB: "My father took me to Paris to a three-star Michelin
restaurant, Laurent. I was eighteen years old. It was an amazing dining
experience. I had foie gras for the first time. It was a great
experience. There was a level of dining and service
that I hadn't experienced before. I was eating new things;
the plate presentation was great. I saw what food could be."




SC:WHAT IS YOUR FIRST FOOD MEMORY?

MB : "Beets. When I was six my grandmother taught me
how to make them. You start by putting the beets
in a pot of cold water. Then you bring them to a boil.
The you run cold water over the beets and peel them.
They're so beautiful. She cut them and served them simply."

THANKS MONIQUE!

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