Laura Calder is host of the series French Food At Home on The Food Network airing Thursday evenings. The native of Eastern Canada studied cooking at The Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver and at L’École de Cuisine LaVarenne in Burgundy, France. Her career began in journalism and public relations, but soon shifted toward food. She has written the cookbook French Food At Home (HarperCollins, 2003)
Q: What is your fondest memory from your family kitchen?
A: Our family kitchen was (and still is) always in a total uproar. It used to drive me to tears. But I suppose in retrospect the only reason it was so wild in there was because there was so much going on — people visiting, mittens drying on the rack, packages of mail landing on the counter, and, obviously, cooking.
Q: What kitchen aromas bring back fond memories?
A: Wood smoke is the main one. We had one of those ancient wood stoves. Even now, when I’ve been away for a long time and first come home, that waft of wood smoke hits my nostrils the second I open the door. It’s a very welcoming thing.
Q: What is your favourite food to cook?
A: I love the challenge of there being nothing in the house to eat and having to put something together from the little bits of this and that, which I find in the fridge and cupboard.
Q: How did the first meal you prepared turn out?
A: I think I was eight when I produced my first family dinner. I haven’t the faintest idea what I made, but I do remember that I got my little brother to be the waiter. He wore a tea cozy on his head and my grandmother’s high-heeled shoes.
Q: What kitchen gadget can’t you live without?
A: My hands. I get them into everything I can.
Q: What rituals from your background involving food do you partake in?
A: We’re fanatical tea drinkers in my family. We’re addicted to a kind of tea blended in the Maritimes. It’s called King Cole Tea. I have three cups for breakfast every day and it has to be brewed to just the right strength, with just the right amount of milk and drunk from a thin-rimmed cup. I’m very picky and it’s just the worst when I’m away somewhere and can’t get a decent cup of tea!