Good food is the common ground and global experience in life that brings people together. It is nourishment for the body, but above all it’s nourishment for the soul.
There is no love sincerer than the love of food, and while I didn’t write that I couldn’t agree more!
I have taken 20 years of experience in the professional kitchen, 35 in the home kitchen, 12 years in the wedding industry, a love of good food, writing, and somehow combined it all to call it my “job”.
From making gourmet chocolates to fruit-filled pies, cupcakes and everything in between, I am never more at home than when I am in the kitchen.
The newest branch of Life with Gusto brought forth my passion for wrapping delectable local produce in a light pastry and so, my tart business was born. Then followed the cupcakes and cookies. (I love to work with vegan or wheat-free ingredients. The challenge to abandon 50% of what I earned my pastry diploma in: butter, eggs and flour is an everyday love affair.
Vegan: Well, I’ve done it all. A vegetarian for most of my adult life, I learned how to ask for dishes void of animal-products in so many languages. I had the joy of living in Italy, Germany, Holland, traveled all over Europe, traversed across Russia, mainland China, Outer Mongolia and ended up working in Hong Kong for two years. When I wasn’t eating Pizza Margarita on Lan Kwai Fong I was attaching myself to a backpack, and globe-trotting through South East Asia, Australia, and India. I had some of the most incredible and unconventional plant-based dishes one could conjure up.
It was no easy task to express my sentiments and allegiance to vegetables but, people got it, and I once recall being ushered into a kitchen in Beijing to physically point out what I desired for my dinner! I recognized the firm tofu, vibrant greens I had no name for, gestured towards the cornucopia of colorful vegetables before me and ate like a queen for that meal and many others while in China.
India was a vegan/vegetarian’s dream for 2 months. Malaysian dishes consisted of a melting pot of vegetarian combinations and cultures ever found on a banana leaf. Sri Lanka is home to my most beloved food memories and explorations on the humble lentil.
For the past 4 years, I have worked tirelessly creating vegan and wheat-free baked goods for friends and family. My pie flour cannot currently be bought anywhere else. I kept weighing, measuring and tasting until I heard the words I so wanted to hear: “This is gluten-free? Are you sure?”
I love working with the best vegan products to produce a superb recipes for any who want plant-based food only. Ironically, it took me 20 years since I obtained my pastry diploma to really embrace pie-making. Whoever coined the phrase easy as pie never tried to make a wheat-free and vegan recipe! Dough can be tricky. It requires lots of expert touches, along with the perfect ingredients, but once you master it the feeling is great.
“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words” – Plautus
My Chocolates: I was thrilled in 2014 to win a silver medal in Canada and a bronze in the world finals. I simply adore dark chocolate, but it was my white chocolate creation that took home the medals. (I paired the chocolate with pure lemon, freeze-dried raspberries and toasted almonds and Dolce Vita was born.) My personal favorite is without doubt Maya. Maya is a dark chocolate infused with cinnamon, ancho chili and studded with almonds and tart raisins. This year (2018) I have introduced Menthe/Mint dark chocolate and also a salted caramel spice with organic pumpkin seeds! Thanks to The Growing Great Chocolate™ a program through Belgian Chocolatier Barry Callebaut, I use 100% sustainably cultivated cocoa beans. Growing Great Chocolate™: Growing cocoa quality – Growing farmer income – Growing quality of life. I use pure oils for the chocolate, freeze-dried raspberries, and the finest almonds.
I work from a facility that also contains wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and nuts.