i grew up in a house where i ate a home cooked dinner every day for close to 18 years. like all children sold on consumption, we begged our parents to let us eat fast-food from time to time. my father, a stickler for a good dinner almost always said no. and why would he say yes? my mom is considered to be one of the finest vietnamese chefs in the dc metropolitan area by all the true critics, her fellow viet friends! my parents had a restaurant (that failed, mainly due to the mid 80s not being such a hot time to open a vietnamese restaurant in a neighborhood whose idea of asian fare was chinese), a food processing plant (mom made vietnamese sausages, beef jerky and other stuff found in asian grocery stores), and catered parties. from growing up and watching my mom cook thousands of meals, i learned to host my own dinner parties and welcome guests.
i am one of three people in my social circle that has a kitchen and dining area large enough to accommodate dinner parties of more than ten people. due to recent budget living, i found myself cooking almost every meal at home. it turned out to be a good thing. eating at home is eating healthier. not only was i saving money, but i also noticed my occasional upset stomach (and sometimes butt) disappeared.
i have favorite recipes i have made so many times i can do them all by heart. four months ago, i started the city cooks club with friends as a way to share family recipes and exchange kitchen tips. some of my friends don't know how to cook at all. others, cook incredibly well. a dozen girls attend and we cook a themed meal from start to finish. we've tried and tasted asian, indian and mexican fare so far. next up is fondue. in the process, i have added a dozen new recipes to my library. the cooking club turned out to be a much welcomed event. what was a great excuse to hang with girls ended up to be a bonding experience over one of my favorite pastimes. it probably sounds cheesy but it’s the perfect alternative to a night out.
thanks to my neighbor and friend, samantha, the city cooks club recently attended a taping of the second annual koshi hikari cooking contest. amateur and professional chefs compete in an iron chef-style contest using koshi hikari rice. three contestants are selected nationwide with celebrity chefs ming tsai, mark miller and david bouley judging the event. we had fun attending and walked away with free rice.
i hope that when i move west, the city cooks club will continue. i can't wait to start the LA chapter but will miss my fellow manhattan chefs. dining and wining in the company of friends is the perfect recipe for a good night. bon appetit!