I was born in Seattle, Washington and moved to California at a young age with my family, where my father established his medical practice. We settled first in San Jose and then Saratoga, where my parents raised four children on a few acres along with lots of chickens, a few dogs, cats, and horses, plus the occasional raccoon. Our property included a productive fruit orchard, that was a remnant from a historic ranch. My mother maintained the orchard, myriad other fruit trees, and a large berry and vegetable garden.
Our property was beautiful, with views up to the Santa Cruz mountains and across the Santa Clara Valley, and so was the region. Orchards stretched in all directions. Time moved slowly, and I spent most of mine outdoors in the orchard and garden, watching the seasons turn, and learning about fruit cultivation and cooking from my mother. It was there that I gained a deep appreciation for the land, the seasons, and the region’s agricultural heritage.
As I matured, the pace of urban growth accelerated. I witnessed the orchard landscape being plowed under for suburban development throughout the Valley. The haphazard and relentless change made a deep impression on me as did the growing environmental movement of the 1970s. These influences led me to study land resources planning at Stanford and later to pursue a masters degree in city and regional planning at UC Berkeley, which were the foundation of my professional career. Pursuing other paths along the way, I studied city planning in Scandinavia and traveled extensively throughout Europe, where I was inspired by their traditions of fine cuisine, beautiful pastries, hand made cheeses, and wines. At the time, these food experiences were not yet widely available in America’s food culture. I have been a student of these culinary traditions in Bay Area cooking schools ever since.
Returning home to raise my own family, I worked to find a balance (I am a Libra, after all) of nurturing family and friends through my love of cooking with a vision of sustainable growth and change. I believe that the health of our region lies in finding ways to protect natural resources and agriculture close to our urban areas.