So, who is Ben?
I imagine others would look at me and just see a regular guy. I live in the suburbs of Northern New Jersey, go to work each day, exercise not often enough and have a chore list that I can never get to the bottom of. Cooking has been a hobby of mine for around the last 10 years, but has been edging towards obsession in the last 3-4. My day job is that of a manager in a medical device company, and while I enjoy what I do, there is little room for creativity in my 9 to 5, so cooking (and now this blog) provides me with a much needed creative outlet.
Do you have a family?
Sure do! My wife, Heidi is also a great cook though my tendency to monopolize the kitchen prevents her from cooking as much as she would probably like to. She is also the proud holder of a degree in pastry arts and I happily stand aside when she starts to bake. We have kind of an informal agreement that she'll put up with my kitchen hogging as long as I don't go near the baking cabinet. Any sort of dessert or other baked good shown on the blog will be her work. We also have a 3 year old daughter named Sarah who fills our days with joy from her constant play and laughter (and also fills our nights will deep deep sleep as a result of having to keep up with all that joy). When it comes to food, she is usually pretty good at giving something new a try before spitting it out and exclaiming that it's yucky, but every once in a while her eyes will light up and she will demand more. That is by far the best critical acclaim I could ask for! Providing my family with delicious, healthy meals is the #1 reason I'm always on the lookout for new ingredients and recipes as well as ways to improve my cooking techniques.
How'd you learn to cook?
Remember chicken voila? Its probably still around somewhere in the frozen section of the grocery store. While I may never think of buying something like that today, that is how it all started years ago when I was in college and one day decided to "cook" a meal of chicken voila instead of heading for the pizza place or throwing some frozen dinner in the microwave. I know its a stretch to call the reheating of bagged frozen chicken and vegetables in a pan cooking, but it showed me that just using a pan was not all that difficult and was actually a bit fun. After that aha moment, my cooking skills developed slowly as I learned from my parents (both very good home cooks) and taught myself from cookbooks and cooking shows. Alton Brown and his Good Eats show had a huge impact on how I cook and think about food in general. It taught me that you have to be good at the basics and understand why things do and don't work before you can wade successfully into more complex techniques.