Amanda Poythress [arpoythress]
When did you start cooking? Who got you started in this art?
I've been cooking and baking since I was a child and my mother let me help her by doing little jobs around the kitchen. I've always loved to cook. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized I had a real talent for creating baked goods that people couldn't forget, which was when I got serious about it.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?
I decided that I want to pursue a career in food because I realized that nothing else makes me happier than a fresh pan of cookies or decorating a cake--among other baking activities.
Is there a website or blog where we can see something about you and your cooking?
http://shake-n-bakery.blogspot.com/ Is the Blogspot for my cooking
http://twitter.com/Shake_n_Bakery Is the Twitter for my blog on cooking
What culinary training have you received? Where have you learned more, in class or by experimenting?
I haven't received any formal culinary training, other than at the hands of three generations of women in my family. I don't plan on going to culinary school, but I am currently getting my business degree. I have taken some culinary classes, but I've found that I love doing things my own way, and the way my family has done it, than the way a stranger tells me to do it. There is much more love involved in the first way.
How and where did you get your first job as a professional cook?
I've never had a job as a professional cook, but I am in the process of hiring at a bakery that I am hoping will pan out.
How would you define your style?
My style is to be super homemade and full of love. I believe that, no matter what a pasty looks like, if you put your heart into making it, it'll taste delicious every time, and people will notice that.
Do you select and buy the ingredients yourself? Where?
Yes. Right now, I make sure I look at everything I buy at the super market before I use it in my products. But when I eventually buy on a larger-scale, I will definitely still hand-select each and every ingredient I buy.
What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?
Well, I think I would have to say Cinnamon to this answer. Cinnamon is one of those spices that remind me of home and love and family. It's warm and blends so well with so many different flavours.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
I think, just because I've made it so much, my signature dish has to be my Chocolate Lava Cakes. I know it's a particular favourite of my family. But my favourite recipe, I think, are my Chocolate Chip and Caramel Cookies.
What is your favorite cooking gadget?
My favourite cooking gadget is definitely my Martha Stewart Collection Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer in Powder Blue that I've named Jamie.
Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career?
My Mother and Grandmother, really. They've taught me how to make food out of love and how to love the food I make.
If you were stranded on a deserted island for one year, what dish would ask to eat after your rescue?
Baked Macaroni and Cheese. I think, after a year of deserted island food, that would be like heaven to me.
If any chef in the world could prepare a meal for you, who would it be?
I think I would go for Jamie Oliver, who I named my stand mixer for. He just seems to love food so much, and every dish he prepares has a little bit of him in it. I think his food would be amazingly delicious.
Men versus women: do they cook differently?
I think so, yes. Men tend to have a more aggressive style towards cooking and women just have a passionate style towards it.
Is there something you hate to see when you go to a restaurant as a customer?
I hate to see food that has just been put down the production line. If you don't love making food, it shows in what you send out. You should be proud of every plate that gets sent out of the kitchen.
Do you sometimes find yourself eating junk-food?
Of course I do! Although I try to limit what I do eat, I have a passion for baking, so a little junk food is bound to sneak its way in from time to time.
Who cooks in your home?
I cook my own meals.
Tell us about your favorite wines and other drinks to accompany food.
I don't drink wine or any other sort of alcohol, so I generally drink water with my food. I don't think it takes away from the food at all, though. Plus, water is supremely good for you.
What do you think about molecular gastronomy in terms of introducing chemical elements into dish preparation?
I try to keep my dishes all natural with as little preservatives as I possibly can. I believe that too many chemical elements in food can be dangerous for us. We weren't originally created to consume such things.
What new techniques are you interested in learning
I'm definitely interested in learning how to make the perfect crust--let me tell you, it's not an easy feat! I'm also interested in learning new decorating techniques, and I'm always on the look out for how to make any recipe I currently have better.
What are some of your professional goals for the future?
Professionally, I want to one day open up my own bakery. That will be pretty far down the line, though. For now, I just want to get as much experience as I possibly can in the baking world, so that when I one day have my own bakery, I'll know what I'm doing.
What advice would you give to someone in high school who would like to pursue a culinary career?
It's not easy. Most new restaurants, statistically, close down within the first five years of opening. It's hard to get a culinary job without experience, no matter how good you are. But you can't give up, not ever. You have to be determined and you have to work hard and it'll be damned tough. But if you hang on, you'll get there.
What would you say to a novice in the kitchen to help them get over their fear of cooking?
You can't let food intimidate you. You're the one who has to master it. Just think of it like a new puppy that you have to train. Patience and hard work and determination will get you extremely far. As will passion and love.
Jacksonville, FL, USA