KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Take 5 with Linda Carucci
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Take 5 with Linda Carucci

Title: Julia Child Curator of Food Arts at Copia, cooking teacher, chef, home cook, author of Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks
Hometown: Hartford CT, grew up in Medway Mass, in Bay Area since 1983

1. What are the secrets to being a really great cooking teacher?
Food writer Betty Fussell recently wrote that the difference between Julia Child and some of the TV chefs of today is that "she showed how, she didn't show off". That struck a cord with me; I really want people to know how to do it. I want them to have a benchmark for the flavor and the taste and be able to go home and do it.

Also sometimes you have to start at the very beginning and teach people how to taste, but also how to breathe, which affects how we taste. If I can teach someone the techniques but I can't teach them to season-to-taste, I haven't done my job. How to finesse things that don't go their way. How to use your senses, your smarts, your instincts, to honor the integrity of the food. Restraint, sometimes it's about what you don't add rather than what you do. You don't want to have too much going on. When in doubt, don't!

2.What's your approach to cooking?
I cook at home a lot. I approach cooking at home with the mindset of an Italian American family, with those roots, I can't get away from the fact that I have an Italian American palate. That's what I fall back on. The flavors come from my Italian grandmother, the seasoning is because of my Indian teacher and the technique is from my French chef instructors.

3. What are your favorite cookbooks?
I love Lidia's cookbooks, they resonate with me even though she learned to cook Italian American food and didn't grow up eating it. We have the same palate. I love David Lebovitz's dessert cookbook (Room for Dessert), his ginger cake is a real crowd pleaser. I love Janet Fletcher's Fresh From the Farmers' Market. I like the Chez Panisse books, I use them for inspiration. The Silver Palate books inspired me in writing my book proposal. I always felt that they had too many ingredients, they didn't know restraint, but I love their approachability.

4. What do you cook for yourself at home?
Simple stuff, fish, chops. I have an indoor gas grill that I use many nights a week. My favorite thing to do is, before I go to work to take a chop and spread it with olive oil sprinkle it with fennel seed and garlic powder and salt and pepper and cook it when I get home. Right now I'm cooking a lot with tomatoes--with mozzarella or with pasta. I make risotto, my husband likes it. It's romantic making something for the person you love, that you know they love. It's a sign of compassion and respect how you cook for someone.

5. What's the best thing about living in the Bay Area?
Salad. It's the one thing I missed so much on my book tour. I love fresh, flavorful salad ingredients and local restaurants seem to have a good understanding of how to put interesting salads together. For example they don't use tomatoes out of season. We are spoiled at Copia because we get the greens out of the garden. Do you know the gem lettuce you find at the farmers markets? I love that lettuce. A little good olive oil and vinegar and I'm happy.


Anonymous haddock said...

How wonderful to see the estimable Linda Carrucci here. She was dean of CCA when I attended and her perserverence in the face of adversity is a lesson I carry with me to this day.

8/24/2005 10:53 AM

Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

Linda is truly amazing. I was one of the recipe testers for this cookbook and her follow thru and meticulous attention to detail are the reason it is one of the best cookbooks you will ever find. There is so much insightful information, it is like going to cooking school, without the horrible uniform and cranky chefs. If you can ever take a cooking class from Linda (Ramekins, Draegers, Sur la Table...), do so! You'll learn more than you could imagine, and you'll have fun!

8/24/2005 9:27 PM

Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

I love this woman! She is such a gem in our community. I think what's most inspiring to me about her is that she is always working in the field, giving back and sharing. And with such delight. Thank you for interviewing her!

8/25/2005 11:07 PM


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