I grew up in an Italian-American household tethered to the apron strings of an over-protective mother. Needless to say, most of my developmental years were spend in the kitchen. It seems like I’ve been shackled to a desk ever since. First, there were the school years. Then my professional career, or as I like to call it, the long climb to the middle.

Staring at spreadsheets all day under fluorescent lighting is tedious way to make a living. Some form of creative release is needed to help maintain balance. Unfortunately, outlets for creativity become fewer and fewer as time and careers advance.  

My solace had always been found in the kitchen. Cooking provided a way to unwind on the weekends. It utilized a different set of skills than those used during the week and provided the creative release so desperately needed.

The defining moment both personally and professionally occurred when my employer at the time offered full tuition reimbursement to all employees. It was applicable to any curriculum being offered by an accredited institution.

Most of my peers took advantage of this program by pursuing their MBA’s. I had other plans.  I went to culinary school. There were already enough stuffed shirts running around the office. These people all thought the same and sounded alike. To mix it up a bit, I donned kitchen whites and a Toque in a sea of blue suits and red ties.

Several years have now passed. Most of my old colleagues have advanced in their careers. I’m still stuck toiling away in middle management. Some of them ask me from time to time if I regret the decision not to go to Business School.

“Hell no” I reply without missing a beat.

What’s for dinner?



Growing up, ancestry and community combined to influence my tastes in food. We were a family of Cuban, Russian and German descent living in an Italian American neighborhood. A cultural smorgasbord could always be found on our dining table. A typical Thanksgiving meal for us would include Turkey, Cuban fresh Ham, Manicotti, and rice and beans.

Written recipes were non-existent in my family’s kitchens.  The food was prepared from memory by grandmothers, mothers and aunts. The dishes were never exactly the same but always as good (if not better) than the last time they were served. As a young girl, I never appreciated the skill and artistry these women displayed. Now, as a grown woman, I yearn to recreate their dishes as tribute. Unfortunately, the specific ingredients and techniques have been lost to the ages. I’ve watched them cook this food a million times. Only now do I realize I never really learned how to make it myself.

Our community was located in a borough of New York City. The area has been maligned by the media over the years. To me, it was more like Mayberry than Fort Apache. Simple detached homes with backyard vegetable gardens lined the streets.  Local ”Mom and Pop” shops lined the town. You went to the butcher for meat, the Baker for bread. The merchants knew your name and had your orders ready before you arrived. Everyone knew each other within a 2 block radius. We all looked out for one another.

As I traveled abroad later in life, my diverse cultural upbringing evolved into a true passion for ethnic cultures and cuisines. Some Foodies focus entirely on the plates set before them, then claim to have a “World Palate”.   I think a sincere appreciation of regional customs and cuisines comes from understanding the origins of food and the people it sustains.

24 Comments on “About”

  1. July 29, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I married a Jersey girl and lived at Exit 63 (GSP) for about four years, working in the newspaper and radio businesses. Looking forward to reading more of what you have to say.

    • July 30, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks Adam! I got my start in the Newspaper business. It was a lot of fun back in those days. Now the industry is going through some tough times. It’s the same story for magazines and all of print in general…

      Thanks again for reading our blog.

      Chris & Janine

  2. September 25, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    Dear Chris & Janine, I LOVE your blog! I haven’t seen everything yet, but what I have seen, I am in awe. I am so glad to have found your site. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your Avatar so I could find you. 🙂 Fae.

    • September 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

      Hi Fae:
      Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. We greatly appreciate it. We also enjoyed your site and think it is very well written and well-conceived! Both of us are especially interested in regional and ethnic cuisines. Which one of your Mom’s Persian recipes would you recommend we try to make? Cheers, Chris & Janine

      • February 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

        Dear Chris & Janine,
        -My deepest apology, I don’t know how but I missed this above response of yours and just saw it 5 months later. The funny thing is that I wrote you a message, a quarter of an inch under it, 5 days later… and didn’t pay attention.
        -Thank you for asking which of my Mom’s Persian recipes I would recommend. There are many. Let me give some thought about which to select, especially for you.
        Will be back soon

      • February 26, 2013 at 9:04 am #

        No problem Fae.

        Persia is a very interesting part of the world. It is an area rich in history and culture. We believe the best way to understand a culture is through their cuisine.

        Chris & Janine

  3. October 1, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Dear Chris & Janine,
    I have nominated you/your informative/creative blog for the Liebster Blog Award! Congratulations!
    Pick up your badge and information/rules on how to pass the torch at:


    😀 Fae.

    • October 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm #


      Thank you so much for nominating our blog for the Liebster Blog Award. We appreciate the encouragement.

      Thanks again.

      Chris & Janine

  4. January 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    I just discovered your blog today when you visited mine and liked my recipe for braised potatoes and fennel. Janine, I so loved what you had to say about the cultural diversity of foods and their origins. I agreed! I, too, have a culturally mixed ethnicity, Swedish and Italian, and this has led me to explore foods of all kinds and their preparation. Oh yeah, I love to grocery shop too.

    • January 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      Hello. Yes, food unites everyone and is the “universal language.” My husband liked your recipe and wants to try it in the near future.
      Thank you for commenting and visiting our blog.
      Janine & Chris

  5. January 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Hi Chris and Janine, thanks for stopping by. I too grew up in an Italian-Canadian household with an extremely over-protective mother and spent lots of time in the kitchen. Looking forward to exploring your blog.

    • January 28, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Thank you for the kind words and for visiting out blog. We really liked your post on roasted mushroom and parmesan salad and plan on trying it soon.

      Thnaks again.

      Chris & Janine

  6. February 12, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve done some exploring of yours and the recipes look great. Can’t wait to try some of them out.

  7. February 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    Super cute plates, we have them too! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    • February 15, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      We searched high and low for food-related gravatar images. We narrowed it down to the food face plates or Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. The food face plates seemed to capture our true personas. Although Janine is not too happy about the portabello mushroom eyebrows I gave her…..

      Thank you for visiting our blog.

      Chris & Janine

  8. February 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Wow, I love your blog! It’s all making me so hungry! Thanks for visiting my blog- I’m glad it led me to yours!

  9. February 27, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    Congratulations, Chris & Janine! You have been awarded:
    Super Sweet Blogging Award, One Lovely Blog Award & Very Inspiring Blogger Award
    I do not expect any action to be taken, or for you to generate a post, unless you wish to pass on the award(s).
    Your blog has been awarded at:
    Enjoy! 😀 Fae.

  10. February 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Wow, awesome website 🙂

    • March 1, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Thank you very much for visiting our blog. We really appreciate the positive feedback.

      Chris & Janine

  11. March 15, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    Hi there, what a great intro 🙂 Thank you for stopping by the Sunshine Scrapbook!

  12. Pat Hickey
    April 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    This is a great, GREAT site/project! How can I get a set of those plates?

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:59 am #


      I bought the plates we use for our gravatar in an art supply store. They are called Mr. and Mrs. Food Face and are intedend for children. Each one has a generic male and female cartoon face printed on them. Kids can create different characters by using the food on their plate as decorations. It encourages them to “play with their food”. I sculpted our portratis using fennel, english cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and portabello mushroom. Janine hair is made from whole wheat pasta.


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