Hi everyone! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nick and I am the NonChef. Why do you ask? Because I have had no formal training or education regarding the art of cooking. I am not a professional, I don't have a fancy restaurant, have never written a cookbook, and I certainly have never had my own TV cooking show. There's nothing professional about me in the kitchen except that I love to bring wonderful things out of the room that so many fear and take delight in the satisfaction of my dinner guests as they sit down to a meal that may look complicated but was simple to create.
I owe my Mom a gratitude of thanks for having allowed me to watch her in the kitchen while growing up. That little French lady all of 4 foot 11 inches could piece together some wonderful meals. We were poor when I was a young boy and it was uncanny how she could take a little of this and nothing of that or whatever was around and turn it into a delicious and appealing meal. She was an artist, much like the painter that can take the 3 primary colors and create a beautiful work of art. Without realizing it, she was my teacher. I soaked up everything she did not because I envisioned that I would become a great chef someday. That was certainly not what I wanted to become (I wanted to be a politician). I probably did it because I probably wanted to make sure that when out on my own, I could still eat the way I did growing up and thereby not miss Mom's cooking as an adult.
I will digress for a moment, but I must tell you of a true story that happened to me when I was in the Boys Scouts. I had greatly anticipated our first overnight camping trip and this was to be my very first time away from home without my parents. Early on the morning of departure, we were all to meet at the Scout's lodge to board an old school bus that was to take us to the camping ground. Since this was my first trip of this sort, I had no idea what I should bring and my step father was of no help, so my Mom proceeded to give me assistance. As we arrived, I noticed that all my fellow scouts were there carrying backpacks and waiting to board the bus. Here I was, backpack on shoulders and two filled cardboard boxes of pots and pans, canned goods, fresh vegetables, fresh meats, you name it, I had it in my boxes. I could hear chuckles and giggles as I walked to the bus carrying all my wares barely able to walk under the load. Well, to make a long story short, my two camp mates offered to help me with my load and thank God they did, as it was quite a trek from bus to camp ground. I can tell you that the smells that came from our tent area were the envy of all the others and my two camp buds and I could comfortably say that we had the best meals of the entire platoon and made additional new friends during our stay. I must add however, the following year I took only my backpack.
So, I started my love of cooking when I was very young. As the years progressed and I went off on my own following high school, I had the opportunity to go to France and visit my relatives for a year and I took it. My grandmother, with whom I stayed, was in her own right, a fabulous cook. She could take tomato paste, a potato, and a baguette, and out of her tiny 4 by 4 foot kitchen make a delicious meal for two. I know that I jest a bit; however, Meme could make something out of nothing and make it taste fabulous. I learned so much from her that year, not just what she did, but how she did it. I had great opportunities that year, visiting some of the finest restaurants as well as some holes in the wall; however, I cannot recall a bad meal and I never stopped learning. I was introduced to wines, liquors, different dishes and sauces, how to properly set a place setting, and the simplicity of things. I was hooked on cooking.
That's how it all started folks. I watched, I listened, I smelled, and I tasted. I had no luxury of formal training, just the love of the art and the determination of wanting to become better at it and to never stop learning, even as the teacher was me. Don't let intimidation get in the way or complexity talk you out of simplicity. It is not as difficult as you might think to be a good cook. Mother Nature has given you the best raw materials one could dream of to start creating. What I will attempt to do on this blog is to assist and advise you, answer questions you might have, and share some of my secrets, recipes, and help in planning your meals. If you make mistakes, share them with me and I will share you mine as well. I will also visually share my creations and show you how simple things can be. Enjoy the trip, it will be fun!