My greatest influence food-wise was definitely my grandmother. Some of my earliest and best memories are standing on a chair next to her at the counter while she rolled out pie crust or made rolls. I remember her and my great-grandmother and aunt sitting on the back porch pitting huge amounts of cherries for canning with hair pins. I remember wondering if I’d ever be able to peel apples with such quick, sharp strokes of the paring knife. She taught me that good food takes time, and is worth perfecting, and the more effort and love you put into anything the better it gets.
KC Catering and the long-gone Brick Oven Bakery gave me some culinary boot-camp experience and a big appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes, and a waitressing stint in college taught me to be a good and respectful tipper. And several friends in the Capitol Hill neigborhood in Denver taught me how to turn out fantastic meals in tiny, low-tech 1920’s apartment kitchens.
I learned in college that I liked the little "hole-in-the wall" places best. They had the best food, the best service, didn’t mind if I was eating alone, and the prices were exactly what my student budget allowed. My life and bank balance has changed since then, but my tastes haven’t.