Someone asked me today what got me started in my business; where did this passion come from? I had to sit back a minute and think about it. After all, I've been doing it for such a long time that I feel it was always there, but there is always a beginning to every story, and this is mine.
Growing up, I couldn't really cook. My parents were of the era where meat was cooked until it turned to shoe leather, vegetables came from a can, and the trend for convenience and budget meant potato spuds from a box. I rarely liked what was put in front of me, with few exceptions.
Money was used to pay bills and not to go to college, so after I graduated high school, I went to an art school in Pittsburgh via student loans. In order to pay for room and board, I stayed with a French family and watched their young daughter and helped with the cooking. This was an introduction into another life I had never experienced. I was 19 and tasted my very first mushroom! Imagine a mushroom being the catalyst to buying my first cookbook. I actually still have it in my collection so many years later, and I am sharing my first recipe ever made that I still make to this day.
I enjoyed following the recipes and even more so, I enjoyed the results. Little by little, without realizing it, I was laying the foundation for what would become my passion.
And then life happened. I got married, started a family, got a divorce, and had to get a job. I went to work for a mortgage company and ended up settling in for sixteen years. Cooking and baking were on the back burner.
Fast forward ten years. I remarried, and my children were pretty much grown and doing their own thing. I had more time but still didn't really think of food as my passion, as much as it was a necessity. I enjoyed entertaining and creating little bites for my friends that would ooh and aah, but I believe I thought it was more about the entertaining. Then one day, I was watching a show about making cupcakes. It was a contest, it was fun, and I started thinking what flavor I would make; I then, of course, had to make them. How hard could cupcakes be? After all, I was pretty good with a recipe. With a huge amount of confidence, I made my special flavor, and when I pulled them out of the oven, I was aghast to see all I had made were hockey pucks. What? The second try resulted in the same disgusting manner. The challenge was on, and I was going to win.
With determination and malice, I rose to the cause of defeating my nemesis. I researched, I watched, I read, and I discovered what I was doing wrong. Finally after several attempts: voila! I had created a light, fluffy, and moist cupcake. I took them into work, and they were devoured. So naturally, I had to make more.... and then I made even more. It was almost like once I had succeeded, the underlying bug in my bed of creativity was awoken and all I wanted to do was cook or bake.
I was like a sponge. I couldn't read enough food magazines, watch an overabundance of food shows, or practice on too many people. I would take my samples into my work kitchen and watch everyone enjoy. I was loving what I could accomplish.
Then the market dropped out, and within a short span, my father and my youngest brother died. It was almost like I died. The only thing that seemed to keep me going was stirring a bowl of chocolate or finding some new hors d'oeuvre to try. I was losing my desire to go to work. I didn't know what to do until a friend sat me down and said, "Do what you love." But at my age, the fear of starting over was a little overwhelming. It wasn't until I went to my last closing and noticed "the sign" on a cup of coffee; this little quote on the side of a cup was what made me decide to take the leap. "Follow your passion and you will find your purpose."
Today, it's been three years to the month that I have been the owner of The Twisted-Fork, and I haven't looked back. It hasn't been without difficulty, but every day is a new day, and I love it. There are learning curves everywhere, and every day I move forward with new knowledge of something to continue making my food beautiful and tasty. I know this is the right path for me because truly... "if you follow your passion, you will find your purpose."