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Branching Out

As a kid, I used to love sitting by the kitchen island and watching my dad cook. Usually, I'd help peel some potatoes, and then I'd just watch as he masterfully prepared every single dish - from one of his famous sides "restovan krompir" (mashed potatoes with caramelized onions in his version) to "sarma" (my dad's cabbage rolls are the best because they're cooked in a pot with smoked meat and he sources the best ingredients). Now, we've become incredibly competitive about who is the better cook (he is, but don't tell him I told you). We can barely share a kitchen without one of us providing commentary and insights on how the other should be adding more salt or putting less lard into the pan for scrambled eggs (true story).

I can't leave my mom out of this story. She's the baker of the family, making the incredibly involved "reform torta" (thin sponge layers with chocolate and walnuts) and savoury cornbread muffins. Her Christmas Bread is a favourite of mine. She makes the bread from scratch and hides a loonie wrapped in tinfoil in the dough. The dough is then baked and served fresh as part of Christmas dinner. When dinner is served, each guest pulls at the bread at the same time, and it is said that the recipient of a piece of bread, with the loonie, is blessed with good luck and wealth for the year.

You'd never know it if you shared a meal with me today, but as a child, I used to be a picky eater. It all changed when I went to a culinary bootcamp in high school. I learned how to de-bone a chicken, make Caesar salad dressing from scratch, and poach eggs. I became obsessed with cooking. Upon my return from this bootcamp, I prepared lunch for my parents - asparagus soup and a Caesar salad, with my homemade dressing. I became even more obsessed with watching the Food Network, to learn as much as I could about cooking. Today, I credit both the Food Network and my family for all my cooking skills.

For my next project, I'm going to combine my passion for food with my passion for filmmaking. I'm looking to produce a pilot for a food documentary web series. I'm calling it Homemade. The idea is to feature real families (like my parents - who unfortunately refuse to be on camera, but maybe I'll convince them one day) and real recipes. We'll learn about the origin of their dishes, how they've evolved, when they are served, and of course, how they are prepared. If the pilot is a success, I'd be looking to produce a web series to feature a diverse set of families of various cultural backgrounds.

I can't wait to go on this journey, taste some delicious food, and learn about some unique cultural food traditions. If you believe your family would be great for the show, please contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you!


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