My family was my biggest influence. My Mom is a really good cook and made most things from scratch, relying very little on canned and other processed foods – I didn’t have Kraft Dinner until I was 10 years old, at a friend’s house. My maternal grandmother was a superb home cook who made everything from bread on up from scratch, and some of my fondest childhood food memories revolve around her home-made blueberry pies and muffins with berries from her own garden and her peerless rugelach. I think the biggest influence on the foodie and cook that I became was my parents’ adventurous tastes in restaurants when I was little – regular visits to chinese and middle-eastern restaurants and then later to japanese and thai had a big effect on forming my adult tastes, and I will also always be forever grateful to them for taking us to England, France, Spain, and Italy when I was young, and for bringing us along to `adult’ restaurants so we could eat oysters, sea urchins, and mussels, tortellini, bouillabaisse etc. Thanks folks!