Nancy Guppy [bpes3i52]
When did you start cooking? Who got you started in this art?
I started baking cakes when I was 6 years old. By the time I was 10 I was cooking complete meals. I decided to enter nutrition and dietetics when I was in grade 10. So, approximately 15 years old. It was suggested by my guidance counsellor - a Mr. Hawn. He said I scored high as a dietitian or a stewardess.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?
I liked food and I was interested in health and health foods. My dad became a chef mid-way through his career and my mom was an avid food nut.
Is there a website or blog where we can see something about you and your cooking?
What culinary training have you received? Where have you learned more, in class or by experimenting?
I have formal training in food and nutrition and I am a registered dietitian. I have a B.A.Sc. in community and clinical nutrition from the University of Guelph. I have a M.H.Sc. in community nutrition from the University of Toronto. I also work as a chef instructor. My formal cooking experience started in my parent's restaurant. I have also cooked in nursing homes and in catering. I became a gourmet cook through trial and error using my ever active imagination and pursuit of lifelong learning.
How and where did you get your first job as a professional cook?
I am a professional dietitian and chef instructor. For years I worked as a dietitian in public health, government and teaching in the School of Hospitality at Canadore College. It is only since I started my cooking studio in 2005 that I have become a more hands-on cook teaching the public. I combine the cooking with teaching food and nutrition.
How would you define your style?
I am into natural and whole foods. I combine homegrown produce with local and organic foods. More recently I have started teaching gluten free cooking, primarily for celiacs. I cook foods from a variety of cultures around the world.
Do you select and buy the ingredients yourself? Where?
I buy organic foods every two weeks from a local home delivery company. I grow a lot of my ingredients as well. Our meat is locally raised in a natural manner although it wouldn't qualify as organic. I also pick foods from the wild.
What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?
I supposed it depends on what we call a spice! The bark of trees or seeds. Then I pick cumin. It is earthy and fragrant and can be used in a wide variety of ethnic cooking styles.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
I don't have any one in particular and they change week to week and year to year. My kids might pick lamb and barley stew. My favourites lately are Bhutanese dishes like:
Momos (Cheese Dumplings),
Aize (tomato chile condiment),
Ema Datshi (Potatoes and Cheese),
Chile Chicken Stir-Fry,
Beef Shoem (Beef with Mushrooms),
Masoor Daal (Curried lentils),
Bhutanese Red Rice,
Kulfi (Homemade Ice-cream)
Fresh Homegrown Himalayan Blackberries.
I am going to make Beef Shoem tonight.
What is your favorite cooking gadget?
Slow cooker. Love them. That's an appliance. I am not big on gadgets. If you have a good sharp knife you can make most anything.
Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career?
Fran Berkoff, a dietitian I worked with in Toronto shortly after graduating university.
Gale Elliott, a dietitian I worked with at the Sudbury Health Unit.
Paul Humphries, psychiatrist I worked for when I was with the government.
Do you have an funny kitchen incident to share with us?
I remember more near disasters in kitchens than funny stories. None come to mind! I do like to laugh while I cook though.
If you were stranded on a deserted island for one year, what dish would ask to eat after your rescue?
If any chef in the world could prepare a meal for you, who would it be?
Men versus women: do they cook differently?
I think so. Women often use more fruits and vegetables. Men more meat. That is a generalization of course.
Is there something you hate to see when you go to a restaurant as a customer?
I hate to experience poor and slow service. Cold soup, food not hot enough is another major flaw of many restaurants
Do you sometimes find yourself eating junk-food?
I try to keep it down to organic corn chips and some lower fat potato chips I buy. I have a salty tooth
Who cooks in your home?
Tell us about your favorite wines and other drinks to accompany food.
I have been making steeped herb punches infused with berries and fruit from the wild e.g., Stag Sumac and Spearmint. I continue to play with mixed tisane and fruit drinks.
My favourite wines are red. I don't consider myself a wine connaisseur. Shiraz Malbec by fuZion in Argentina is good and a great price.
What tendencies do you see coming on strong?
South American foods like those from Brazil and Peru. Himalayan cuisines. People are really travelling. I think the trend to explore our natural environment and pick from the wild will continue to grow. Homegrown as well. The kitchen vegetable and herb garden.
What do you think about molecular gastronomy in terms of introducing chemical elements into dish preparation?
This doesn't interest me in the least!
What new techniques are you interested in learning
Using the food dehydrator. Different ways to preserve food. I would love to build and outdoor oven from scratch!
What are some of your professional goals for the future?
I want to start up culinary tours. Local northern food tours and also into Quebec. I can see taking some of these overseas eventually.
What advice would you give to someone in high school who would like to pursue a culinary career?
I would pursue chef management and administration or food and nutrition management. That is my advice for the college diploma level. Being a chef can be an amazing career, especially if you work for yourself. I see too many chefs in restaurants and hotels working long hours and not having enough time for themselves and their families. A government job as a chef gives decent wages and benefits + a pension. You can cater and develop your creative juices on the side. Just a thought.
What would you say to a novice in the kitchen to help them get over their fear of cooking?
Just cook. Have fun. Make simple dishes and move on. My first dinner at 16 was for a boy! I made Penne a la Rustica. Penne was exotic then. It had peas in it which was weird. I remember it though!!