Tell me about the Rustic Kitchen.
I opened my Chicago-based cooking school when I realized that my friends were reluctant to come over for dinner for fear they’d feel obligated to reciprocate. I was an avid home cook, had worked on projects with star cooks (even visited Julia Child’s kitchen) and studied at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in Napa. I started teaching private groups in my Chicago kitchen under the premise that delicious, inviting food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Thus the name Rustic Kitchen – nothing about it implies white tablecloths and tall food, just simple, grandma-style cooking. After several years I also began working with a large public relations agency with clients who like to reach home cooks and occasionally need recipes.
And in early 2007 I bought a 3½ -acre farm in southwest Michigan with an eye on growing my own vegetables and giving people a cooking-in-the-country experience. But that will be after the kitchen spiff-up -- the farmhouse dates to 1881. It’s lovingly called Pine Cone Meadow Farm.
How to I schedule a cooking class?
My classes are on hold until the kitchen remodeling is complete. If you’d like to be added to my e-list for updates on future classes in Chicago or southwest Michigan, please sign up at rustickitchen.com.
How did your Michigan place get the name Pine Cone Meadow Farm?
The previous owners might have been overwhelmed, or maybe just a little lazy, because the lawn was almost entirely meadow. While I’m a big environmentalist, I wanted some room to garden and sit in my red Adirondack chair, so I wanted to clear some of the meadow. After Rick the lawn guy introduced me to the glories of a machine called a Brush Hog, I learned that a regular mower was not up to the pine cones. Rick now has a regular gig keeping the meadow and pine cones in check. My cousin Vicki gets credit for the name.
What if I want my own little farm that needs a lotta work?
Make sure your neighbor is a master carpenter. Kurt came to plow the driveway and since then has done two bathrooms, one beat up shed, a staircase and one spiffy lattice fence around the vegetable garden.
Isn’t there a restaurant called the Rustic Kitchen?
Indeed, there are three Rustic Kitchen restaurants in Boston. I had the name first, which is why I own the RusticKitchen.com domain. But it seems like a lot of work to insist that they change the names of the restaurants, and I’ve set up my e-mail to reject the messages requesting their reservation line. I’ve decided to embrace the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.