Ro: When did you first start cooking, and what was the first dish that you prepared?
Annette: Promise you won’t laugh? I started cooking from the time my mom didn’t mean to show me how to push the button down on the toaster. I’ve been fascinated with food since I was a single digit. I started with the family’s toast at age 3 or so and my first dish all on my own, without permission of course at 8 years old, was two cans of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle’O soup - undiluted, banged into a casserole dish that was way too big, and covered with crushed saltine crackers. It was a very salty dish. But crunchy! And I love crunchy! A very important thing to note …was even at that young age…my palate knew it was too salty and I never made that mistake again and from then on…my very precocious behind tasted everything before anyone else did. Even someone else’s food at their house! I was the salt detector. “Here… let me taste it to see if its too salty” ha ha!
Ro: Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Annette: I’d have to say honestly that I’ve had so many positive influences and accolades since I was a kid about my natural cooking abilities that it’s hard to name any one person…but I know that my oldest brother Mike made a comment to me one day about my fried chicken, saying that my chicken should be served in a restaurant. He further lamented that I’d make someone a fine wife one day, which I’m relieved to report…never happened. I’ve been a wife and all that…but the “fine” part never made it. From that point on…I knew I wanted to be a cook forever. Just didn’t know at that point what my dreams were. At that point in my life I was dreaming about singing and matching Karen Carpenter note for note….
Ro: On your website you describe yourself as a “Culinary Educated Foodie”. That makes me smile! Please explain to my readers what that means.
Annette: In my opinion, being a Foodie essentially means loving good food, and the people that make good food possible. Being a Culinary Educated Foodie just means I love good food, and the people that make it possible, plus I went to school to learn the technical aspects of making it possible.
Ro: It is my understanding that you have over thirty years of professional cooking experience. Thirty years of pursuing your passion, that is awesome! Please tell us a little bit about your experience.
Annette: I got my first grill cooking job at the age of 15 based on the recommendations of my parents at a local, still in business, all night diner in my hometown. I had to get a work permit to do it. From then on, I shift managed in fast food and became the manager of an ice cream parlor all before I turned 18. I have always been a super-achiever when it comes to working around food. Put me in charge of anything else I’ll lose my mind, and cost you yours. I went through culinary school in the early 80’s joined the military as an MP and changed MOS’s when I realized I wanted to cook my own midnight omelet in the mess hall more than I wanted to stand in a gate shack directing traffic. Wasn‘t hard to do…I wasn’t a good cop at all. From there I have shared in a variety of experiences as a cook and mostly manager of food service. From Healthcare Food management to Food Service Account management, line cooking and Executive Chef work. I’ve pretty much done a piece of it all.
Ro: I am intrigued by your business Tivo Dinner Chef . You advertise “Fresh, simple, creative & tasty meals at your convenience! Flexible and affordable Private Chef Services, and Private Cooking lessons in your home.” That sounds very inviting. What inspired you to take that leap of faith and start your own business?
Annette: Well, working in food management got to the point is wasn‘t fun anymore. I never got to cook. I became highly stressed, left the business altogether and decided to pursue music as a hobby for a while and did the singer-songwriter thing for about 14 years… I still kept my hands in food part-time. My passion was only taking a break to revive itself. And it did. I want to enjoy cooking. And keep it stress-free. And the only way you can have exactly what you want in life...is to pretty much create it yourself. So that’s what I’m doing.
Ro: It is my understanding that among many services offered by Tivo Dinner Chef, (within certain geographic limitations of course) you will come to my home and cook for me. Describe the type of dinner you might prepare if I scheduled you to prepare a romantic dinner for me and my husband on our wedding anniversary in October? We love seafood.
Annette: Aaaaah! How about I prepare you my “Aromantic” “Sweet Heat Surf Lovers” dinner ~ Pan seared Tuna Medallion twins drizzled with my signature Orange Ginger Chipotle Sauce with Orange Butter Poached Sea Scallops ~ Sweet Potato Coins ~ Mixed Herb Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Ro: Sounds scrumptious! Wish I could fly you to the West Coast to do that. What might you prepare for a family get together over the Christmas holiday, ten of us, including kids?
Annette: I love traditional holiday fare…with a few special twists. How about a Raspberry Chipotle Glazed Ham; Lemon Herb Roasted Turkey Breast; Chilled Sweet Potato Salad; Creamed Collards; Roasted Root Veggies with Parsnips, Turnips, Butternut squash, Carrots, and Fennel; my should-be-illegal Macaroni and 4 Cheese casserole; Fresh Green Beans with Fingerling Potatoes; …for dessert, I’d have to prepare and share my Coconut Lime Cake!
Ro: You really have my mouth watering now. I also understand that you cook for small private parties. What might you prepare for a good old fashioned afternoon bridal shower for a June bride – just a bunch of us girls?
Annette: I’d probably do a sampling of my Amuse Bouche, which technically means “Gift from the Chef” - loosely means “one bite wonders”, with a main focus dish of assorted smoked salmon appetizers, assorted Bellini’s, which are tiny little pancakes with toppings, maybe some traditional snacking trays with original dips and here and there - eclectic bites not seen on your average veggie tray. I like offering up something different. Even when doing something standard.
Ro: Perfect! I see that you offer cooking lessons too. The happy young couple is back from their honeymoon in the Bahamas. Neither of them know anything about cooking at all, but good old Auntie Ro gave them Tivo Dinner Chef lessons as a wedding gift. Seriously, where do you start?
Annette: Well, I’m assuming these are nanny raised kids…? Ha ha. We’d start with a simple menu that is a favorite of theirs. And I’d carry them through the preparation from the shopping to dessert. Basics begin where their knowledge does. So we’d either start with learning how to boil water - or me teaching them what causes it to boil…I’m flexible.
Ro: Obviously you are very patient as well. What if I am a good practical cook who knows her crepes from her collards but would like to spice things up a bit?
Annette: Sounds like you’d want to learn about flavor profiling and how spices and flavors work together. I’d give some tasting lessons in which I could coach you on how we can change the flavors of one basic dish several different ways. You’d learn best by taking that knowledge and experimenting with other dishes based on recommended spice and herb combinations. If you learn a recipe…you can make a really good dish. If you learn a technique, you can make hundreds of good dishes. I recommend to anyone serious about good cooking, that they get their own copy of The Flavor Bible and don’t let it out of your site!
Ro: Great advice. What other services do you offer?
Annette: I enjoy doing anything in a kitchen…so I offer services that help you help yourself in your own kitchen pretty much. I can teach housewives how to can vegetables, freeze vegetables and herbs, cook things ahead for the freezer, I do weekly shopping and kitchen set ups, I deliver lunch boxes to small offices, make meals for pick-up after work for those who want home-cooking and can’t do it…I mean...you name it in the kitchen and I do it…and love it!
Ro: Rousing Rowena is a blog about living a meaningful and happy life. I interview and post articles by earth conscious, minimalists, musicians, artists, photographers, writers, world travelers and other amazing individuals – like you Annette - who truly love what they do, and who just might be living the kind of lifestyle that my readers want to live. Is there anything that you would like to say to my readers about pursuing their own passions?
Annette: A passion is irreplaceable. A passion is everything that motivates us. Never quit pursuing your passion. Even if it can only be a hobby and not a living, never let it go. Share it selflessly to whatever extent you can and as you do…watch the abilities to do it more and more grow… as if by magic. To me, a life has meaning only when we seek to know what it is we do well and do it for the benefit of others. Think about what it is that never leaves you. The one thing you do that you do consistently well with seemingly no effort. And do it for someone else. To be able to offer our gifts to others is a blessing and a privilege. And by doing for others, we do for ourselves until sooner or later…it just works itself out. And now…in my life…the smile on a face that says thank you for what I create in the kitchen…is pure therapy.
Ro: That is simply beautiful Annette! I have learned a lot from you through this interview. I greatly appreciate your contribution to my blog. When's dinner?
If you would like find out more more about Annette Warner and the services she has to offer click on this link: Tivo Dinner Chef
Some of Annette's delicious, culinary creations:
Coconut Mango Panko Chicken Breasts with Peppers.
Some of Annette's delicious, culinary creations:
Wheat Toast with Sliced Bananas and Annette's fresh Strawberry Jam
Chicken Tender Cutlets with Sage Orange Sauce and thin & crispy Panchetta.
Coconut Mango Panko Chicken Breasts with Peppers.
Dark Cherry and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloins with Italian Parsley Garnish.