This is by no means a comprehensive list. But these are some people whose food I will eat, no matter what. I crave invitations to eat in their homes, to graze on their offerings, to ingest whatever their hands have crafted. I’m sure you have your own such list. Here is mine:
My Em has been a close friend since just about forever. We originally met at church camp in about the 3rd grade, I believe. We became besties at New Way Singers in high school. (Some of you know what that is.) She took care of me in such a nurturing way our freshman year of college as roommates. She made mac & cheese in her hot pot, fruit punch Kool-Aid in her pitcher, and tuna salad (canned tuna mixed with Miracle Whip) & crackers on her desk. (Ok, on her knee. But it wasn't gross. Really. Maybe it's just a college thing.) She made my bed and was a homework inspiration. (I’m a bit of a procrastinator & she was industrious in her studiousness.) And she’s always been a bit of a “downhome” kind of cook. I’m sad to say that we live in the same city (ish) but rarely have the get-togethers we should. Why do we let busyness crowd out such pleasures?! Anyway, I’ve had numerous meals over at her house that I’ve tried to emulate with near success, but I’d much rather just eat her fixings than try to make it myself. She makes it look effortless! Skillet pork chops & gravy over rice, ranch chicken & rice (topped with green beans, which sounds weird, but WORKS!), grilled ANYTHING, even her lettuce just tastes better than mine. You are a privileged eater indeed if you get the opportunity to consume Em’s cooking.
Jake’s aunt Marti is a treasure. She loves to cook and loves to try new things. (Sometimes I just wish she’d make the same thing over & over!! Otherwise I forget about some of the delicious dishes I’ve had.) She loves a reason to try out a new tool, recipe or ingredient. She’s a Foodie’s Foodie. Gourmet to the core, but not afraid of her hearty German heritage either. One of the best gifts we get for our birthdays is a specially requested meal made by Marti. That’s something you don’t want to squander on just anything, either. I appreciate her love of food and know I’m a better cook for it. I’ve passed on the fervor for her corn recipe to my family, some of whom make it more often than she does now! Marti will take the time to make a dish right, which is why I request food items from her I’m not willing to put the time into to make right myself. Like her veggie pizza appetizer. It’s. The. Best. EVER!!! And she takes the time to chop all her veggies into teeny tiny pieces, which contributes to the incredibleness of the overall dish, I’m sure. I am simply too lazy. Which is probably why I’ll never reach the upper echelon of cookery where Marti resides.
-Rick & Erin Merrill
With Erin’s pasta sauce and Rick’s love of food, they are a perfect pairing. Rick makes amazing sweet & spicy bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp. (Just about anything grilled, come to think of it.) Erin makes incredible sauce, no matter what Rick says. :-) And I know she’s a novice chef, but she’s gaining speed for sure. Just the fact that she’s willing to endure a whole day of cooking & stirring to make that sauce puts her in a different category from me altogether! Not to mention enduring Rick’s “constructive criticism”. :-) I will NEVER, EVER turn down an offer to eat at the Merrill’s.
-Amy & Curtis McGinnis
These two are a true team when it comes to cooking. I marvel at the thought! And they are adventurous, too. I love getting recipes that Amy recommends. They are normally very ethnic, filled with wonderful new flavors. They aren’t afraid of a little hard work & time spent in the kitchen to create something delicious, often crafting things from scratch. Amy’s recent gluten-free diet is inspiring. (And helpful now that we're gluten-free too!) They have a great balance between healthy and tasty. And we share a love of great Mexican food, so they can’t go wrong by me!! Oh, and we’re pretty close on Asian cuisine (mmm…PF Chang’s) though I haven’t entirely won them over to sushi yet. Something to work on.
Lisa is a great cook and working at Omaha Steaks doesn’t hurt either. But dessert is where she excels. She loves to bake. She loves chocolate. What a great combo!! Her Darn Good Chocolate Cake has been worthy of its own separate blogpost. The fact that she’s baked her way through an entire cake cookbook is an amazing accomplishment and gastro feat! I approve.
These are just a few of my favorite cooks currently. Whose table will you gladly sit at time & time again?