We dropped into the kitchen this week for a quick Q&A with Chef Catherine!
Where did you grow up? I grew up in San Marino, California, and I graduated from San Marino High School in the spring of 1994.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef? In high school, I became interested in cooking. I prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for my family and a tea party for my friends. I also took cooking classes and cake decorating classes. After high school, I attended the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Glion, Switzerland, where I studied the Cordon Bleu method of cooking among other courses. When I returned, I worked in catering for Peggy Dark at the Kitchen for Exploring Foods in Pasadena, California.
Where did you study? Realizing I loved working in the food industry, I enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where I received my Culinary Arts Degree in 1996. In April of 2000, I was invited to attend a course in chocolate techniques and plated desserts at the Valrhona Chocolate Factory in Tain L’Hermitage, France.In 2010, I was chosen as one of 12 pastry chefs in the United States to attend the Valrhona Chocolate School in France to study the latest chocolate techniques under Philippe Givre and Derek Poirier.
I have continued to take professional courses in chocolate and advanced pastry at the renowned French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois, and L’Ecole de Valrhona in Brooklyn, New York. L’Ecole Valrhona invited me to be a member of the first group of United States Pastry Chefs and Chocolatiers to attend the Japanese Pastry Class at their school in Tokyo, Japan. This class included hands-on training at the school for which I received certification.
Is there a chef that you admire the most? Who and why? Several chefs come to mind as people in the profession that I greatly admire. One in particular is Anne-Sophie of Pic in France. She is the only female three-star Michelin Chef in France. Her food is innovative and elegant.
Tell me about your favorite wine. My favorite wine is Brunco Rocca Barbaresco. I like Italian wines, and this is a very good artisan wine from Italy.
What is your favorite food memory? My favorite food memory was dining at Eric Frechon’s Epicure in Hotel Le Bristol in Paris, France. The food was prepared and presented so beautifully and creatively. It remains a very special memory.
What is your best cooking tip for a novice? The art of making delicious pastries is very exacting. It requires great attention to detail. I would advise bakers to use a scale and measure their ingredients carefully, and to use an instant thermometer to measure the temperature of the food they are cooking. Also, never stop learning. Continue to take classes from skilled professionals.
What do you like to eat when you’re at home? I enjoy having a delicious cheese, a crispy baguette, thinly sliced prosciutto, and a glass of wine.
What do you think is the most challenging food to cook with? For me pulled sugar work is the most challenging due to the weather in Houston.
Final question, what would be your “last supper” meal? For my “last supper” I would enjoy a fondue party.
Interested in learning more about Chef Catherine? Visit her at one of her upcoming cooking classes. Learn more.