Chef and television personality Sara Moulton returns to Kansas City next month to help inspire diners by showing them how to make recipes from her new cookbook, Everyday Family Dinners.
During the June 4 weekend, Moulton leads two master classes at The Culinary Center of Kansas City and gives a cooking demonstration as part of a dinner featuring recipes from her cookbook.
Fat City had a chance to chat with Moulton by phone yesterday.
Have you ever been to Kansas City?
I was in Kansas City as part of my previous book tour [Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals] in 2005. And one of the big reasons I'm coming back is the Culinary Center -- they're just great.
What are you looking forward to eating or trying while you're in town?
Sadly, I never get to eat. My demos are usually right at meal time and that's a bummer. And since I never eat when I'm doing a demo ... maybe I could try between lunch and dinner.
What are the differences between a live demo and cooking for a television program?
I actually prefer live demonstrations. I like to see the whites of people's eyes. I did a live cooking show for six years and a taped show for another four. But, in person, I get to see what the audience is thinking and cooking. I have a lot of fun with the audience and I tend to get quite off track when I'm cooking.
What can people expect when they come see you for a demonstration or class?
I'm a schoolmarm. If I'm doing a demo, I want everybody to hear me. So, don't talk in back [she laughs]. I was supposed to be a teacher; I was a tutor throughout high school and college. I found it fascinating to think about how you engage a child and work from that angle to teach them.
This is combining my two biggest loves: teaching and cooking. I think I am a very good teacher, I might be a better teacher than cook.
This is your third cookbook. Can you talk about the process for creating Everyday Family Dinners?
Gourmet magazine shut down on October 5. I worked there for 25 years. But that [the fact that Gourmet stopped publication] gave me extra time to test the recipes. As a result, I think this is my best book -- the only recipe in 200 that was repeated is my tomatillo salsa.
I also dispensed with the mise en place because that's not how I cook at home. Instead, I tell people to throw everything on the counter and take advantage of cooking time, so you can be slicing as the onions are simmering on the stove.
At the same time, if you're making dinner every night, you don't want to lose that magic. This needs to be fun.
On television, you come across as accessible -- how much of recipe creation is about making food accessible?
My goal in life -- if I have a religion, it's called family dinner. Everybody needs to get that back in their life, straightaway. I don't understand why they can't make that happen. You, your friends, your partner, yourself, need to sit down and reflect on the day. Talk to each other about what happened.
It can be a bit of an uphill battle for vegetarians and vegans in Kansas City. But each recipe in your cookbook has a vegetarian option. What led you to that choice?
We eat way too much protein. I'm referring to animal protein. It's not good for the environment, it's not sustainable. I was trying to bulk up the vegetables in the book, the proportions of vegetables to meat. Vegan for me is hard, though. I like egg and cheese and honey. I just can't go that far. I'm a cheese-o-holic.
What are you excited about cooking right now?
Right now, it's kimchi. I like pickles and spicy things. I was trained in French cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America, but as I get older, I want more excitement and I'm looking for more flavors. I'm excited by Indian vegetarian, Korean, Vietnamese and Mexican. I just want new spices and new things. We really are an international country and you can find almost everything in the supermarket.
Moulton will be at The Culinary Center of Kansas City on Friday, June 4, and Saturday, June 5. She will be teaching a master class on June 4 (7 to 9 p.m.) and June 5 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.). Class participants will learn how to make several recipes from Everyday Family Dinners
Saturday night, Moulton will be behind the stove again for a cooking demonstration and discussion over dinner featuring recipes from her cookbook. The dinner is from 7 to 9 p.m. and is $125 (signed book included in the price). You can reserve your seat online and receive an autographed copy. The class is $95.
Images courtesy of Sara Moulton.