Welcome to my virtual kitchen! I’ve been playing around in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. I started as a baker and have, over the years, expanded my culinary interests to include and satisfy many a savoury craving. I love experimenting and developing new recipes.
After teaching English and Art in my native Toronto for nine years, I decided to take my gig on the road and moved to Eastern Europe. I spent nine glorious years in Budapest, teaching Art at the American International School of Budapest. In my free time, I was tasting, cooking, sharing, and exploring the many offerings from the Hungarian larder. After my stint in Budapest, I moved north to The Netherlands where Amsterdam has been my home for the past fifteen years and I have been teaching Art at the American School. During my time on this continent, I have the incredible fortune to travel far from my own kitchen. I’ve wandered in many European cities, always searching for the taste of local food specialities. Further afield, some highlights have been: east to India, Hong Kong, and Thailand; south to Mexico, Morocco, Tanzania, and South Africa. I’ve been north, to Russia, Iceland, and the Scandinavian countries. It is from the flavours of my travels that I bring new ideas into my kitchen.
Having been raised in a home influenced by Polish cuisine, I had many a “stick to your ribs” meal. Mom and dad brought years of family food history to our table. While I am not averse to having such a meal that will sustain me for hours of field plowing (some of my ancestors were pig farmers,) I find myself cooking dishes that are a little lighter and satisfying in flavour and nutrition: foods that I like to call “good, and good for you.” An ideal day for me is waking up early and heading to the market to gather ingredients for a fresh, delicious meal; a meal I will joyfully spend a few hours creating by hand and heart.
While I am happy to spend all day in the kitchen, when I am teaching, I have a daily, hour-long commute and this means I need to take a few extra steps to get organized so I can have ingredients at the ready, for healthy meals in my busy week. Putting in time toward meal prep, goes a long way. Healthy breakfasts I can enjoy on the train, lunches that are packed with wholesome foods, and delicious dinners that are easy to pull together on the day, all make sense to me. I do eat meat; dairy and gluten are making fewer appearances, and I try to keep processed sugars to a minimum. My diet is mostly plant-based and always full of flavour!
Two years ago, I took a sabbatical from my teaching job and spent the year learning from many experts in the field here in Amsterdam. I experienced many different aspects of the food industry, from making 300 jars of peanut butter in a weekend, to helping pinch 1,000 dumplings, to learning the ins and outs of running a table at the local Saturday market. I was a personal cook for a family of three, and I also helped coach an online nutrition course with the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, based in Toronto. When I returned to my job last school year, I was the Home Economics teacher to students at the Middle School level and had a wonderful time working with these kids! This year, it’s back to my position as the High School Art teacher and I am enjoying re-acquainting myself with pencils and paint brushes once again.
During this time of Covid, I have had the opportunity to try my hand as a “TV chef.” Okay, okay, those are big words… but I was approached with the opportunity to be behind the camera, teaching people how to shop more safely and meal plan so there were fewer visits to the grocery store. I invite you to have a look at my 5-part cooking series, on my YouTube Channel.
As a self-taught home cook, I have clocked a lot of hours at the kitchen counter. In addition to this extensive home study, over the years I have:
- taken cooking classes featuring different cultural cuisines
- run after school cooking classes for high school students
- hosted cooking workshops and demonstrations for teachers
- worked with charities to prepare food at various venues
- completed a course in Culinary Nutrition Education
- coached a group of students in Culinary Nutrition Education
- become a Culinary Nutrition Instructor
- cooked as a private home chef for a family of three
- advised on organizing kitchen space for new home owners
- catered various functions and events – solo, and as part of a group
- helped set up a specialty food stall for a busy Saturday Market stall
- made regular contributions to my Facebook and Instagram food blog
- created and developed recipes for notable local author, Jean Kwok’s Book Club Discussion Guide, for her latest novel, Searching for Sylvie Lee.
- been a member of the team that regularly produces The Morning Breakfast, based in Amsterdam
- worked with the Amsterdam-based zero waste shop, The Little Plant Pantry, heading up their kitchen and developing their menu
- developed sweet and savoury recipes for PlanFutur, a company based in Benin, and the Netherlands, promoting the new superfood: Moringa
- Was invited to create a 5-part cooking series on my YouTube Channel.
Cooking has afforded me many amazing and wonderful opportunities. Recipe development, menu planning, and cooking workshops are where my energy is currently directed. Truly, any day that I wake up and know my time will be spent in the kitchen, is a joy-filled day for me. I love learning about techniques, tools, methods, ingredients, and along with this, foods inspired by different cultures. As a seasoned teacher, it brings me joy to share with others; if I can make someone else’s time in the kitchen a little easier, my job is blissfully done.
I’ll close with some kind words from Nigel Slater whose take on dining is akin to mine. Nigel says:
There is something quietly civilizing about sharing a meal with other people. The simple act of making someone something to eat, even a bowl of soup or a loaf of bread, has a many-layered meaning. It suggests an act of protection and caring, of generosity and intimacy. It is in itself a sign of respect.
Enjoy every bite!
The Well Travelled Kitchen is about delicious food, cooked from scratch. I believe food connects people. Culture, adventure, flavour, home: Eat good food.