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About Me

Making food for other people to savor and enjoy has always been a part of my life and of who I am at my core.  I learned to cook at a young age, spending time watching my mother prepare meals for her growing family in our kitchen in suburban Virginia.  By the time I was in high school, I was pretty much fixing dinner for the family on most evenings.  In college, I’d bake cookies as a study break and dole them out to the dorm floor (a batch of these cookies even gave me car-borrowing privileges from a friend) and make dinners to share on occasion.  I also coached a roommate through making quiche for a date!

No matter what job I had post-university and graduate school (when I lived in Italy for a year), I’d spend time dreaming up menus and throwing elaborate brunches and dinner parties for friends with recipes taken from magazines and cookbooks or ones I’d created myself.  Then, after spending many years working in foreign policy, non-profit, and financial services, jobs which enabled me to live in London, Bologna, and Strasbourg as well as to travel to Austria, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, among other countries, I started this website to share some of the recipes and culinary stories from my time traveling and living abroad, food preparation tips I'd learned, in addition to tales of cooking and eating adventures in my now home of New York City.

A big change happened when the financial meltdown hit in the late ’00s, and I found myself at the receiving end of a layoff from a major international bank.  I decided then that it was time to pursue seriously my passion for all things culinary, and I enrolled in the International Culinary Center in New York City (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute), where I graduated with a Grand Diplôme with Distinction from their Honors Program.  [You can read about my culinary school experiences here.]  Since then I have quite a few positions in the hospitality industry: cookbook recipe tester; menu writer and developer; catering and restaurant group systems and processes strategist; operations and supply chain manager; pop-up and production cook; party chef; kitchen manager; to name a few.  I have even wrangled chickens at an interactive food event for children held at the NY Botantical Gardens!

Please check out my Work With Me page to see samples of recipes that I've created for local food brands as well as published articles and photos about restaurants and events (including making lots of Cassoulet for Jimmy's No. 43's former annual cook-off!). More detailed information about my previous work and experience is available on my LinkedIn page.  Reach out to me via the contact form below if you would like to discuss how you think we can work together.

Buon appetito!

Kathy Blake (aka The Experimental Gourmand)

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