From Book to Plate: Cooking with Jonathan Bardzik and Friends
Join Jonathan Bardzik and other cookbook and culinary authors for an afternoon of “food talk” and cooking demonstrations.
Jonathan Bardzik is a professional storyteller, cook and author based in Washington, DC. Self-trained with more than 20 years in his home kitchen, Jonathan is inspired by the seasonal, local ingredients he grew up with and finds today at the farm market. His culinary passion is to explore those farm and garden-fresh flavors, create food for friends and family, and share his adventures to help others find joy in their own home kitchen. Jonathan is the author of two cookbooks – “Simple Summer” and “Seasons to Taste”.
Visit his website: http://jonathanbardzik.com
Photo: Todd Franson
Other Participating Cookbook Authors
»The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook–Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens
»Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season
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Interview with Jonathan Bardzik
By Sarah Baker
Jonathan Bardzik is a storytelling cook whose dishes are inspired by the local and seasonal ingredients he finds all year long at farm markets in the DC area. His work has been featured in publications like Food Network Magazine and USA Today. Come join Jonathan on April 24 for an afternoon of “food talk” and cooking demonstrations that see his creations go from book to plate!
Tell us about your writing process. When do you like to write? Where?
Both of my books, Seasons to Taste and Simple Summer, were written at my dining table just three feet from my open kitchen. I write about cooking good, garden and farm-fresh food at home and sharing it with the people who make our lives matter and being right in the center of where that takes place keeps me centered and focused.
For Seasons to Taste I spent three weeks at my family’s home in western Massachusetts – again, at a table in the kitchen – writing the 32 short stories in the book. So many of the experiences I wrote about happened in that place and it was wonderful looking around the kitchen and out the windows at the places they happened.
As for when? Writing is split between letting ideas develop in your head and then the long, iterative work of capturing them “on paper.” I can think about a story for hours, days or weeks before the right way to tell it becomes apparent. Unfortunately that inspiration doesn’t happen on schedule, so you’ll find me writing at all hours of the day from early morning to late at night.
How do you choose what stories and recipes to include in your books?
With each book there was a guiding idea – simple, summer entertaining or fresh, seasonal cooking – and the stories and recipes grew from it. For both books I began by writing an opening story that captured my overall views. From there there are times when good stories suggest recipes and other times when a story follows a favorite recipe or ingredient.
Most importantly, the recipes have to be easy to cook, feature fresh, seasonal ingredients, and be delicious! While I review a list of the nearly 700 recipes I’ve developed, I start with the ones that are most memorable – the real standouts.
What are some of your favorite dishes to cook? Why?
What day of the week is it? In all seriousness, it depends on the day and the season. Most days I cook simple dishes with a little something special – a favorite spice or blend, or a splash of a good-quality vinegar. I love a project, especially in winter when I spend more time indoors and the idea of filling the house with the scent of stocks simmering or meat braising for hours is particularly appealing.
With spring coming I’ll be cooking lots of asparagus from soup and soufflés (they’re so easy!) to a simple dinner of blanched stalked with poached eggs and a champagne vinaigrette.
What sets Simple Summer and Seasons to Taste apart from traditional cookbooks?
Storytelling, photography and recipes that are meant to be cooked. For me food is intimately connected to a time and place – the kitchen (or sidewalk) where I cook and the people I share it with. I’ve had many non-cooks tell me that they’ve sat down and read my cookbooks cover-to-cover laughing, learning and shedding a few tears.
I’ve been told that my recipes are so simple to prepare, but don’t taste simple. With good-quality, farm and garden-fresh, seasonal food you don’t have to do too much. These are mostly Tuesday-night kind of recipes with easy-to-find ingredients and suggestions for substitutions. I include tips and sidebars with information about choosing and handling ingredients or technique so you can put a delicious dish on the table the first time.
Finally, photography is so important. Each recipe is prepared according to the directions and photographed – no fake food, oil spray or toothpicks. In fact, we eat every dish after we shoot it! All of the photos of people are from real events that we’ve hosted with people who know each other and are sharing real moments, brought together by food and cooking.
Is there a question you’re never asked as a storytelling cook that you’d like answer? Here’s your chance!
Why do I do what I do – that is write, live cooking events, video…? I believe that life can and should be lived well, and that the kitchen is a place that almost all of us, regardless of means, can share time with the people who make our lives matter preparing a simple meal and sharing a special moment by setting a table and sitting down to enjoy it together.
The kitchen and table (and farm markets, gardens etc…) are where I find joy and I love sharing that joy with others.