Good advice from a wise chef

pile of cookbooks
A cookbook for every occasion.

You’ll love this one…

Here’s a fun fact about me: I worked in a fly fishing shop for a few years in between Nashoba Brook Bakery and Babycakes. I wasn’t too useful as an employee, but I was a meticulous clothing folder, a cheerful phone answerer, and tried really hard to help the shoppers to the best of my abilities. ‘Ooohhh! That’s a pretty color fly!’ (wince).  In other words, I tried to stay out of the way of the people who knew what they were doing. Anyway, one of the customers was a famous chef who owned a restaurant in Boston. He was always fun to chat with, and one day, he came in when I was working hard reading a recipe for risotto. He glanced at the recipe and asked if I was going to make it. I responded by telling him that I was having people over for dinner and was going to give it a shot.

‘A shot? What does that mean?’

It means I’ve never made risotto before. I’m going to give it a try.

He tried to conceal his disgust, but his narrowed eyes and single raised eyebrow said everything. In lieu of telling me how to make risotto, he uttered this advice: ‘Never EVER make a new recipe, FOR GUESTS, without TRYING. IT. FIRST.’

Those words of wisdom stuck with me to this day.

notebooks, recipe books
This is me, pretending to be organized.

We are having Thanksgiving this year with my parents, and I’ve been collecting recipes that sound delicious. There’s nothing I love more than browsing through cookbooks and food magazines and putting sticky notes on the recipes that sound appealing. One recipe in particular sounded so good, I decided I was going to highlight it for the December installment of Recipe Recipe. I wrote the blog post, inserted the links, and felt proud of myself for being so far ahead of my new blogging schedule. I crossed it off of my to-do list, and waited for that smug feeling of satisfaction to seep over me. Only, it didn’t happen. Instead, something gnawed at me and made me feel like a loser.

Read any good, appealing food blog, and what do they have? Pictures. Beautiful, artistic, creative pictures documenting each step of the process from start to finish. What did I have? Nothing. Why? Because I hadn’t even made the recipe. I didn’t have time to do this with the previous two Recipe Recipe posts, but this time, I had no excuse. I had plenty of time to be a cooker, photographer and blogger.

pile of cookbooks
The best cookbooks have notes, bookmarks, etc…

I went to the store, bought everything, and started following the recipe. Feeling particularly motivated, I captured each small cooking moment, from the groceries piled on my countertop to the sizzling butter in the pan. And that’s when things started going south.


The recipe was a bust. Some parts worked, but most didn’t. I was horrified and stunned, and couldn’t believe that I almost shared this recipe with you, endorsing it without taking the time to actually make sure it worked and tasted good. And, that’s when I thought of my brief encounter with the chef, and his advice that I was about to disregard for the second time. I was just about to “invite you over for dinner” without trying the recipe first.

Thankfully, disaster was adverted…this time. However, this experience has left me curious. How many of you wing it when you have guests coming over? Do you test out recipes before an important meal, do you just go for it, or is your goal never to have guests over in the first place? Do you always fall back on your tried & true meals or do you love trying something new? When you try a new recipe, do you follow it to the letter, or do you improvise along the way?

Just in case you were worried, I decided to share the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie for December’s recipe recipe post.  🙂 I’ve made it – a lot. Hope that makes you happy, Chef!



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Owner, Baker,
& Storyteller

You know that friend who has it all together? Yeah. That’s not me. What I can offer you instead are my experiences, insights, and passions. Pithy observations about making cookies. Wry commentary on running a business. Loving (if slightly sarcastic) parenting advice. And if that doesn’t interest you, I have dogs. Cute ones.

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