Hello! My name is Lynne Hemer and I am a woman obsessed with food and cooking, in search of new, unusual, exotic and sublime ingredients and recipes. I love reading cookbooks, taking cooking classes, going to new restaurants, photographing food, and blogging about it all!
I grew up in Richfield, Minnesota, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. When I was 23 years old I moved to Chicago for three years, then on to California. I now live in the Manhattan Beach area of Los Angeles, CA.
My mother’s grandmother was an immigrant from Norway, her grandfather from Denmark, so the food I ate growing up was Midwestern with occasional Norwegian and Danish traditional dishes thrown in. During the holidays dishes like fiskeboller, rullepolse, fattigmann, pickled herring, lefsa and krumkake would show up in the kitchen. I think this is what started my interest in unusual foods. Believe me, no one else in my neighborhood was eating this stuff.
During the early 1980s I was a manager for three restaurants in the Redondo Beach Marina – The Landing, Clark’s, and the Redondo Beach House. I was in the restaurant kitchen every day, but my focus was on food costing, the liquor par, and keeping the employees from stealing. I hadn’t been bitten by the Foodie Obsession bug yet, but I was eating exciting, complex and, to me, new food, experiences that, down the line, would help fuel my desire to learn everything culinary.
In 1991, a friend talked me into doing a cooking show segment for the City of Torrance Cable Network. They filmed amateurs cooking one or two of their own recipes – a one take, half hour show. I was scared to death, but this turned out to be the pivotal experience that changed me from a simple wife and mother into someone who dreamed of going to culinary school. With that one moment of “fame,” I was calling the CIA in New York and talking to the recruiter there. They sent me literature and a tape showing the school and classes. I was misty-eyed with longing. But I had a husband, a 4-year old child and a career, so running off to New York was just a wonderful fantasy.
One day I received a catalog of classes from UCLA in the mail. I was paging through and, lo and behold, they had a culinary school program! It wasn’t the CIA, but it was nearby and doable. I ended up going to culinary school at night for five years – the happiest five years of my life. I ended up with a Certificate in the Professional Designation of Cooking and a Certificate for Pastry and Baking. My cooking teacher was Cecilia de Castro, a well-known LA culinarian, who had worked with Wolfgang Puck in the early days at Ma Maison. My pastry teacher was Kathy Soo Hoo, who had been the pastry chef at the Parkway Grill, and created the deserts for the Oscars before Wolfgang Puck took over the franchise.
I did my cooking internship at Campanile, with Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton. Every Saturday for nine months I did prep work there in the kitchen. It was such an amazing experience for me, scary, enlightening, intensely interesting, like having walked into another dimension, where you didn’t know the rules and how you were supposed to act. But I learned so much, and, to my knowledge, didn’t create any big blunders. The people I worked with were so kind to me, a middle aged woman with, by their standards, no skills, teaching me and poking fun at me. I was sad when my time was over, but grateful for being allowed to work there and learn.
In 1996 I also took a cooking class that was part of the UCLA Catering Certificate Program that was taught by Denise Vivaldo of Food Fanatics. Our final was a banquet that we prepared for 100 friends and family. I ended up being the Executive Chef for the banquet, directing my brigade of fellow students in the kitchen, which was a pretty heady experience for an OCD, perfectionist, control freak like me. After desert they made me give a speech and we all got a standing ovation.
From 1996 until now, 2010, I went back to being a wife and mother with a full time office job. I finished raising my youngest son, who is now 22. I really wanted to get back into the culinary life in some way and was thinking about teaching a cooking class. I took some cooking classes from the Manhattan Beach Parks Dept., but I just couldn’t see myself hauling all the equipment and food back and forth from my car for each class. I just didn’t have the energy.
This was the point where I decided to do a food blog. I want to share my recipes and experiences with other food obsessed people, and join the LA food blogging community. This is the perfect culmination. I hope you enjoy my website as much as I enjoy creating it.