Through her recipes, Grandma Lupe lives on

March 23, 2015

If you’ve explored my website or seen me on TV, you know I'm culinary-trained and spent 20-plus years in the hospitality and restaurant industry helping people enjoy everything from authentic French dishes to belly-busting burgers. But few people have had as much influence on my approach to food than my Grandma Lupe.

 

Perhaps that's not surprising. Every family has their own comfort food and there's often a beloved matriarch known for making it. But here's the twist. Grandma Lupe died before I was born. I didn’t have the joy of seeing her at her tiny stove frying tacos (except for the picture at right), or sit on the bench pulled up to her kitchen table and sip Café con Leche with the adults, or have her show me how thick the gravy should be for chili con carne. And yet, her cooking was a huge influence on me. 

 

The food was delicious and I savor my Arizona roots and the Mexican influence in our family recipes. However, what really captured me was the special endorsement and excitement that was created whenever anyone said they were making one of Grandma Lupe’s recipes. No one ever turned up a nose even at an unfamiliar vegetable or strange cut of meat like tongue. If they knew it was prepared with Grandma’s unique flair, they’d try it. It was like sprinkling fairy dust. Just evoking the Grandma Lupe touch made any meal magical and memorable. A Grandma Lupe recipe was a gold standard. I wanted that anticipation and appeal associated with the dishes I create.  It seemed to me to be a form of immortality to create something that lives on beyond you and yet remains new and fresh. Though I never met her, Grandma Lupe was very much part of my life.  Her presence was felt through her style of cooking at each of my birthdays and celebrations. 

 

It seemed only right that the first time I was asked to contribute to a cookbook, I offered up the recipe for Grandma Lupe’s tacos. Jan D’Atri was compiling a book called Rescued Recipes, dedicated to family favorites that should never be lost. I knew Grandma Lupe deserved a special place in that book. 

 

Thanks, Jan, for helping me honor the woman who will always spice up each of the meals I make and share. She didn’t have fancy titles like chef, had no culinary training.  Just an intrinsic ability to make food a vital part of family life.

If you’ve explored my website or seen me on TV, you know I'm culinary-trained and spent 20-plus years in the hospitality and restaurant industry helping people enjoy everything from authentic French dishes to belly-busting burgers. But few people have had as much influence on my approach to food than my Grandma Lupe.

 

Perhaps that's not surprising. Every family has their own comfort food and there's often a beloved matriarch known for making it. But here's the twist. Grandma Lupe died before I was born. I didn’t have the joy of seeing her at her tiny stove frying tacos (except for the picture at right), or sit on the bench pulled up to her kitchen table and sip Café con Leche with the adults, or have her show me how thick the gravy should be for chili con carne. And yet, her cooking was a huge influence on me. 

 

The food was delicious and I savor my Arizona roots and the Mexican influence in our family recipes. However, what really captured me was the special endorsement and excitement that was created whenever anyone said they were making one of Grandma Lupe’s recipes. No one ever turned up a nose even at an unfamiliar vegetable or strange cut of meat like tongue. If they knew it was prepared with Grandma’s unique flair, they’d try it. It was like sprinkling fairy dust. Just evoking the Grandma Lupe touch made any meal magical and memorable. A Grandma Lupe recipe was a gold standard. I wanted that anticipation and appeal associated with the dishes I create.  It seemed to me to be a form of immortality to create something that lives on beyond you and yet remains new and fresh. Though I never met her, Grandma Lupe was very much part of my life.  Her presence was felt through her style of cooking at each of my birthdays and celebrations. 

 

It seemed only right that the first time I was asked to contribute to a cookbook, I offered up the recipe for Grandma Lupe’s tacos. Jan D’Atri was compiling a book called Rescued Recipes, dedicated to family favorites that should never be lost. I knew Grandma Lupe deserved a special place in that book. 

 

Thanks, Jan, for helping me honor the woman who will always spice up each of the meals I make and share. She didn’t have fancy titles like chef, had no culinary training.  Just an intrinsic ability to make food a vital part of family life.

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March 23, 2015

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