Interview with Chef Linda Hall
Chef Linda Hall sent me an e mailed after checking out the page. She sent me some great ideas for my "Kitchen Drawer" page that I will be sure to include. Linda works as a chef for a big food manufacturer developing new products. Linda's knowledge in the kitchen is incredible as you will see in her answers below.
Did you cook growing up?
I started cooking in junior high school. It all started with an after school baking class.
What made you decide you would become a professional cook?
I enjoyed cooking through high school and worked as a "hostess helper" on the weekends - helping local women with their parties. From there I figured I'd go into catering.
Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
I was formally trained at the Culinary Institute of America but I also worked at Fraser Morris in New York which gave me a good background in gourmet foods, cheeses, caviar and smoked fish and Le Francais in Chicago - a good grounding in French pastry. I worked as a caterer's assistant in Paris (briefly) and worked in a few other Chicago area restaurants.
Would you do it again?
Probably. I love baking.
Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
Realize that there is a world of difference between enjoying to cook for company and working in a restaurant. The cornerstone for most restaurants is consistency. This means making the same dish the same way over and over and over. It can be tedious. The hours are also very long (when the world goes out to eat, and your friends go out to eat, you'll be working). The pay is awful. It is gratifying but exhausting.
Best cooking tip for a novice?
Weigh your ingredients the next time you bake. What you think is a cup of flour this time may be half a cup or a cup and a half the next time you measure it. If you weigh your ingredients, you'll always have the same results.
My immersion blender. It's great for fixing broken emulsions, making vinaigrettes and pureeing soups.
Funniest kitchen incident?
The first quiche I ever made was so awful it ended up sticking to the inside of the incinerator chute when we tried to throw it out..
Favorite food to cook with?
Pasta? Its easy, nutritious and versatile.
When at home, what do you like to eat?
Pizza, pasta...the basics. Anything that doesn't require a lot of planning or clean-up unless we're entertaining. My husband is a chef so he's not home at night to eat.
Thanks Linda for the interview - RG