What started as a simple connection between friends—me cooking and Tara photographing—morphed into something beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve never attended culinary school, never written a food blog and never even worked in a restaurant, but, hey, why not publish a cookbook? I’ve been writing recipes since I was a kid and sharing them with everyone I know, so the idea of putting together a cookbook seemed like the only logical thing to do.
After crazily cooking up 50 of my recipes in 3 days, Tara and I realized the cookbook would be lacking one thing—people! For me, cooking is not just a creative outlet, it’s also about connecting and sharing with people (there’s a reason they say the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!). There was no doubt about what we had to do next: gather up all my close friends, cook up a grand meal, and toast to our liveliness, with Tara photographing every bit of it.
The party was held on an idyllic September evening, tucked away on a secluded countryside garden in Kansas. Surrounded by endless skies and lush greenery, it was the perfect setting to bring everyone together in the name of food. In between hugs and laughs, friends were welcomed with a table of small plates, including kale and white bean bruschetta, smoky rosemary nuts, avocado tempeh-bacon sliders, and goat cheese-pistachio stuffed dates. As the sun began to set, we all took our seats at the linen-covered picnic table for the first course: spinach salad with roasted pumpkin, cauliflower, pepitas and a cranberry-balsamic dressing.