From the Editor

Fearless in the Kitchen

For some reason, it often comes as a surprise to people when they learn I love to cook. Perhaps it is because I have long been focused on my career (since I was about 7 – I was one of those kids, passing out my business card on the playground). Or maybe it is simply that I am spotted dining out just a bit too often.

Whatever the case may be, I have been whipping up meals, and messes, in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.

And as a result, I have learned a lot about life while standing alone in my kitchen.

There have been times while cooking when I have cut corners and my guests or husband has paid for it. Just recently, for example, I tried grilling pizza on a cedar plank.

The directions state that if you don’t soak the wood beforehand for several hours, your food may burn. I thought one hour and 45 minutes was reasonable soaking time. Not so.

And when the cookbook says your food may burn, that would be because the plank may burst into a blazing inferno, along with your pizza.

Life/cooking lesson learned: Patience really is a virtue … and blackened pizza will not be the next big foodie trend. (Bonus lesson: Eyebrows grow back faster than eyelashes.)

There also was the time I was making dessert for a large group of friends and family. After overconfidently making a chocolate soufflé, I had produced one of the most beautiful yet inedible dishes in the history of the dessert course.

Life/cooking lesson learned: Pay attention to the details … and label the salt and sugar canisters.

And, as most of my family will readily recount, there was the Thanksgiving my Aunt Susan and I tried to make dinner for our entire family. My grandmother, who always cooked an amazing Thanksgiving meal for us while we watched football, had passed away earlier that year, so we were ready to take on the turkey in her honor.

At 3 p.m., after everyone had complained of extreme starvation – from the sofa in front of the TV, the thankless lot of them – we that announced dinner was almost ready.

Susan opened the door and we peered in, only to find a cold, pink turkey. Neither of us had turned on the stove or bothered to check the bird’s progress throughout the day.

However, we were fast to point the finger at the other, in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Life/cooking lesson learned: Admit when you have made a mistake … and make reservations for Thanksgiving next year.

Through all the ups and downs, perhaps my love for cooking is part of the creative personality – I simply enjoy putting things together, be they words on a page or ingredients in a mixing bowl, to make something to be shared and hopefully enjoyed by others.

As it turns out, I am not alone when viewed as unconventional for my Julia Child-like alter ego.

There is a new chef at the stove and he represents everyman – emphasis on “man.” Guys of all ages are finding their way from the back yard barbecue pit to the Cuisinart in record time, according to Emerald Coast Magazine writer Anita Doberman in our “Real Men Cook” cover story.

These are men who have professions far removed from the food and beverage industry, but have found cooking to be a relaxing and creative outlet. From developers to dentists, men throughout the Emerald Coast are strapping on their aprons and spicing up their lives with a newfound hobby.

And I’ll bet that while they are at it, they are learning a lesson or two about life, which may be the biggest surprise of all.

– Lori Hutzler Eckert, Editor