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Welcome!

I'm Kristin and I'm a chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, and cookbook devourer based in southern California. I hope you enjoy reading the site. Please grab a snack and stay awhile.  Questions or inquiries? Reach out at kfrieder@gmail.com.  

The workaround

The workaround

If you have never worked in a professional kitchen, you may imagine a playground of sleek and fancy top-of-the-line commercial equipment, an elegant scene straight out of an episode of Chef's Table. In real life, the typical circumstances are far less cinematic. While beautiful kitchens like these exist, it is far more common to encounter kitchens where wear and tear has led to a wide range of quirky attributes and semi-broken tools. And this brings us to the necessity of the workaround.

Every kitchen has that one piece of equipment that still technically kind of works, but is definitely in need of a repair. For example, the food processor that will not function unless you smack it on its' side (reminiscent of the Fonz jukebox technique from Happy Days.) A pasta roller machine missing its on/off switch, which has been replaced by a steak knife positioned just so. The missing knob on a salamander (an overhead broiler) that will turn only if you borrow the knob from a nearby oven. The rolling speed rack with a wobbly wheel that is threatening the safety of 200 carefully prepared plates of food, but that will still function if you know exactly how to guide it to its destination. Or the oven that will never work again that you have converted into pot and pan storage because kitchen square footage is a precious thing. Kitchens run on tight budgets, so chefs pride themselves on developing workarounds to get the job done.  I feel particularly connected to this idea because I spent many years working for non-profit organizations, and we relied on the same sense of resourcefulness and perseverance to accomplish our goals. 

Rather than letting these challenges get us down, we relish in finding the workaround. There is a sense of satisfaction one gets from adapting to these obstacles, because in the end the food still gets made, the customers get fed, and hopefully everyone leaves happy at the end of the night. No matter how much you may have struggled or sweat to get the final product, the diner will experience the glossy, Instagram-ready, Hollywood version of your efforts. Every challenge can and must be conquered, and we are the problem solvers that will make it happen (using whatever means necessary and without sacrificing quality.)

In your own life, you might not have your dream kitchen floor plan (although I sincerely hope you do.) You might not own every piece of equipment you want.  You may have wanted to make a recipe one day, only to get discouraged because you didn't have the size pan you needed or the right hard-to-find or expensive ingredient. But press on. Great things can come from your two hands, even if your equipment is semi-broken, your budget is small, and the circumstances are less than ideal.  The important thing is to find the workaround. 

Cookbook of the Month, April 2017: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Cookbook of the Month, April 2017: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

On instincts...

On instincts...