My earliest memory is baking with my mother in her yellow kitchen. She started baking with me when I was very small, in an act of self defense. I did not nap you see, so for her, keeping me occupied was a way to make it through the day. If I napped when I wanted to (between say 4 and 5:30, right before dinner) she could forget about calling it a night early.
So our afternoon dessert making was a necessity! We made pudding, cakes, cookies, bread, jam and soon I started helping her in the kitchen, standing on a chair wearing one of her waist aprons as a dress, stirring with her wooden spoon.
Food was all my family talked about. Many arguments and debates swirled as hands chopped, stirred and tasted. We competed with each other for “The Best” Award… the Best Caesar Dressing, the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, the Best Lasagna. This was important stuff, and it was the glue that held our family together. Friends had open invitations to dinner and they took us up on it. Breakups with boyfriends and girlfriends were made worse when they realized there would be no more late night Scrabble games at the kitchen table, no more Pictionary or Charades and worse, no more delicious food!
When I was about six my uncle had a restaurant on Cape Cod, and I ordered a pancake. The edges lopped over the plate and touched the table. I stared at the melting butter and oozing syrup and decided then and there I would open a restaurant of my own some day. So I started spending time next to each relative as they told me their cooking secrets, offering me a thin sliver of the crispiest taste of roast, a spoonful of silky sauce, a tiny wedge of cheese. I discovered early the cook got the best bites. I leafed through every cookbook and magazine I could get my hands on, started watching cooking shows on public television, and tested recipes on my family. I was 10 and I was on fire! To make a long story short, I trained long and hard, but for me it was never work. I loved taking a cookbook and a cup of tea into bed at night. I loved watching other people cook and bake. I loved talking about recipes and cultural culinary differences (we lived in a small town in Canada populated by Poles, Italians, and French.)
My first job at 15 was in a roadhouse kitchen peeling potatoes and forming ice cold ground beef into patties. This, I discovered, was “prep.” I baked and cooked my way through college. I published “Heartburn,” a weekly column for starving students in The Sagebrush, the college paper at UNR, which taught undergraduates how to, among other things, throw dinner parties on a shoestring budget, the many wondrous incarnations of the egg, and how to roast a turkey like Mom. I reviewed local restaurants for The Sagebrush and Reno News & Review.
My degrees are in journalism and studio art. I worked for ten years as an art teacher and trainer for various local arts agencies and national charter school. But I never forgot my girlhood dream of opening my own place, and worked as a baker while on break from teaching. Finally when I moved back to Reno in 2000 I opened a Catering and Personal Cheffing business. In the summer of 2002 a dear friend told me about a small 1000 square foot space next to Renown Medical Center and the rest is history. Eleven years later DISH is growing and I still love it, thanks to God, my staff, my customers, my family, and especially my husband. I love you all.
Tastefully yours, Nancy