There have been 3 major influences on my cooking, and my life:
My grandmother taught me how to cook without a recipe.
You get a feel for what food looks like and tastes like when it's perfect, and you just instinctively know. Her food was comforting, memorable, and had no lack of butter, cheese and cream. She let me into her kitchen at a young age, and I was able to learn tricks and techniques that most children maybe haven't. I still keep that food tradition alive in my own house by remembering both her and the foods she taught me over and over.
Favorite meals I learned from her: Chicken and Dumplings; Pierogies and Cabbage; Homemade Egg Noodles
I love everything about the Barefoot Contessa, from her 2nd kitchen in her barn to her easy-breezy Hamptons lifestyle. Her food mantra is elegant and earthy. She is able to mix incredible ingredients in a very accessible and beautiful simplicity. She jumped headfirst into the food world without any previous experience (she worked in the White House before that), and has never looked back. Every recipe I have used of hers is flawless, and works every single time.
Favorite Ina recipes:
Why do meals have to have only one kind of flavor? I don't believe they should. I am influenced by citrus-pops of Limoncello from Rome; smoky, sweet curries from India; spicy and sour Ethiopian dishes; and how cilantro, salt and lime can make anything taste better. I believe that herbs can go into desserts, and cookies need salt chunks on top of them. I like to bring in flavors from travels and from other food makers, and mix new trends with classic recipes. Food is exciting and doesn't have to be serious all the time.