Name: Laura Leigh Goyer
Blog name and URL: An Uneducated Palate http://anuneducatedpalate.com/
Where were you born? Los Angeles, California
Where are you living now? Kelowna, BC
Why did you start your blog? I’m a huge fan of Laura Calder and the more I watched her on French Food at Home the more obsessed I became with French cooking. That newfound passion eventually led me to Julia Child and her massive body of work, and before I was halfway through reading My Life In France, I bought a plane ticket to Paris and set my sights on Le Cordon Bleu. I returned from my Paris adventure with so many memories (stories, photos, recipes and secrets from inside a few of the world’s most famous cooking schools) that I wanted to share. A blog seemed like the best place to do it.
How did you decide on your blog name? I've always wanted to be one of those intuitive cooks who whips up a fabulous meal at a moment's notice; someone who cooks from the heart, not from a book. You need to have a keen understanding of flavour, texture, balance and seasoning to cook well without a recipe, and that’s something you just can't learn from watching a cooking show or reading a cookbook.
An Uneducated Palate describes me at the starting point of my culinary journey. I didn’t grow up in a food-centric home. My dad played pro hockey and our meals revolved around his schedule. At about 2:00 in the afternoon on game days he’d have a huge steak, then, later in the evening after he’d left for the rink, my mom would put together something quick and easy for the kids. I ate a lot of hot dogs, bologna sandwiches, and ‘breakfast for dinner’ suppers when I was young; meals that weren't especially conducive to developing my palate.
The bottom line is that a chef (aspiring or otherwise) with a lackluster palate is about as credible as a ballerina with flat feet. Ever since I figured that out I’ve been on a mission to commit more tastes to memory - foods like caviar, pork belly, truffles, fois gras, duck confit, crocodile, smoked eel, yak, fried green tomatoes, Kobe beef, pressed ham hocks, handmade marshmallows, clotted cream, kale chips and more - thus creating my own sensory guide of how foods should taste. I still have a long way to go.
What do you blog about? I blog about my efforts to become a better home-cook by learning classic culinary technique while focusing on the essential elements of taste. I'm fascinated by professional chefs and their kitchens, and I write unbiased reviews of the cooking classes I've attended. I also write about fresh food markets, gourmet food shops, food and wine festivals, cooking competitions and, occasionally, restaurants - anywhere I can find a new taste to commit to memory.
What post are you most proud of and why? The post I'm most proud of is the one that I did for the last assignment in the JC100 Campaign, Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. Julia's longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, launched the JC100 Celebration in anticipation of what would have been Julia's 100th birthday on August 15, 2012. As part of the campaign, they invited a group of food bloggers to cook fifteen of Julia's most cherished recipes and then share the results on their blogs. I agreed to take part without really appreciating the time and effort involved.
Every Monday afternoon for fifteen weeks the JC100 bloggers received an email with that week's spotlight recipe (usually excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking). The expectation was that we would publish our blog posts by Thursday morning. That meant every Monday night after work I'd shop for ingredients, then on Tuesday nights I'd cook and photograph the recipe. Wednesday nights I'd write the blog post, and early Thursday mornings I'd share the link with Julia’s publisher and post it across their social media platforms. By the time the campaign reached its fifteenth and final week I was exhausted and many of the original JC100 bloggers had (understandably) dropped out. I'm proud to say that I stuck with it until the end, even if that meant cooking soups and stews in the middle of an August heat wave.
Which post do you wish received more love and why? When I think of blog love I think of statistics (maybe because I'm a business analyst by day) so if the question is which post do I wish received more page views, the answer is the one I wrote about having Sunday Supper with Laura Calder. Meeting my culinary idol was such a big deal for me. It was huge! I guess I just assumed everyone else would find it as exciting as I did. I've consoled myself with the idea that, in this case at least, it isn't the quantity of love that matters. It's the quality! A friend of Laura's saw the post, commented that he thought it was lovely, and asked if he might send it on to her. That was enough for me.
Which post’s success surprised you and why? It would have to be the post I did for my Brazilian Fish Stew. I made the dish for dinner one night and, on a whim, I snapped a quick photo of it using my iPhone. I liked the vibrant colours in the photo so much that I uploaded it to my Facebook page. From there, I received several requests for the recipe. I decided I might as well turn it into a short blog post. The surprise came when I submitted the photo to foodgawker and they accepted it! Imagine that - foodgawker accepting an iPhone photo. That post was totally unplanned, took maybe 45 minutes, and has received more page views than I ever imagined.
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without? My GPS. I don't know how I ever found my way before I had an iPhone and GPS. I have absolutely no sense of direction.
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without? My J.A. Henckels 8-inch chef's knife. (Is that a gadget?)
Favourite food, care to share a recipe? I learned how to make the most delicious dish, Parmentier de Confit de Canard, at La Cuisine Paris - crushingly tender duck confit sandwiched between two layers of fluffy mashed potatoes. It's like a Frenchified version of Shepherd's Pie.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page? To be truthful, I'm more infatuated with French culinary technique and the history and tradition that accompanies it than I am with French food. If I had to pick a favourite cuisine it would be Italian - not French.
What makes your blog unique? I think my enthusiasm for nonprofessional cooking classes and the reviews I write about them make my blog unique. I’m building an online resource for other culinary connoisseurs that may help them choose a cooking class with confidence. Gastro-tourism is booming as increasingly more people travel to explore the food and wine of a particular region - and its a lucrative business. Culinary workshops I've attended have cost anywhere from $25 to $200, and there’s no return policy. It’s best to know what you’re signing up for before you pay the registration fee. I've written about classes in the Okanagan Valley, Las Vegas, and Paris, and I hope to add more destinations soon.