Starting with the basics:
Occupation: I’m a full-time student. On the side, I primarily work for Taste Carolina, and I do some administrative work for a local realtor. Where are you from? Rocky Mount, North Carolina. When did you move to Raleigh? Initially, I left Rocky Mount and moved to Charlotte. In 1993, I moved to San Francisco. But in 1994, I moved to Raleigh where I’ve been for the past sixteen years, and downtown for the past seven.
What do you love best about North Carolina? SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. I absolutely love it! I’ve traveled all over the country: New York, Texas, Chicago, the West Coast, Florida, and nowhere else in this country are people as nice as they are here. I met a guy in Nepal from New York who could not stop talking about southern hospitality and how friendly people are. 8,000 miles from home, and this guy is telling me how friendly they are. And it keeps me here, I think. I love to travel, but this is home. When you drive through the country here, you can beep your horn and wave, and the farmers wave at you every time. When I go to other cities and have to put on my “New York” face, I feel suppressed with a furrowed brow.
What type of music do you listen to when you’re cooking in the kitchen? Well, it depends on what I’m cooking. If I’m making tortillas then I am listening to South American songstress, Cesaria Evora. If I’m making Asian or Indian food, I’ll listen to some Nepali music I got when I was there. Then, it’s probably jazz for everything else.
Top 5 favorite foods? (anything goes) Oh wow, I should have figured that would be a question. (1) Fruit is probably my favorite; it is just the best way to start the day. And mango is my favorite fruit. (2) I like hippie/ rabbit food. Raw food. Sprouts. My grandparents had a garden, so I always had fresh produce,. Now I can’t have anything out of a can. (3) I love Indian food. (Which I fully embraced when I worked at Mantra!) (4) Middle Eastern: hummus, tabouli, baba ghanouj. (5) Authentic Mexican. I love the chilaquiles.
What is your comfort food? Soul Food – that’s what I grew up on. Green beans, biscuits, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and turkey. I always loved my grandmother’s biscuits and vegetables.
Are there any foods you won’t eat/try? I guess monkey brains – I probably wouldn’t want to eat that. I’ll try anything twice, because the first time can be a fluke. I tried guinea pig in Peru (cuy).
What is a great meal you’ve eaten recently? The first meal that comes into mind is the Lamb Vindaloo that I had from Mantra the other night. I got it to go and it was awesome. For real. There was another awesome meal I had, a burger and kale salad from Market Restaurant.
You have a day with absolutely no obligations. How do you spend it? Riding my motorcycle. I’d pick a destination to ride my bike all day. I’d go somewhere and back. In fact, this Sunday I am going to take a road trip through the Uwharrie Forest. It’s going to be my first ride with a group of bikers. It’s six hours. That is my favorite thing to do these days.
What are some cooking challenges or techniques you would like to tackle? I’d like to learn how to make a good hollandaise; I haven’t learned how to do that yet. Man, there are lots of things I’d love to learn. I could make a list – really. I’ve never poached anything. Oh, and there’s some New Orleans cuisine that I would like to make that I heard is tricky. Creole food.
Who is one person you’d love to cook with? My grandma, Myrtle Joyner. I was very young when she reared me and now she suffers from dementia. That would be awesome. Oh, and her biscuits. I would love to learn to make my grandmother’s biscuits. My friends in high school always wanted them.