Hello From Chicago

Joined Jan 25, 2010
Brand new to Cheftalk!

I look forward to learning and sharing in my passion for food.

Joined Aug 29, 2000
Welcome, Javida! In what kind of establishment are you a server?

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How did you get your passion for food? Was there a person who inspired you?

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Joined Jan 25, 2010
Hello Mezzaluna,

My experience in restaurants has been as a server, bartender, KP, line cook in NYC and Cleveland-area.  My background is in Public Relations and Insurance...what a mix!

I have been in the kitchen since I was two years old.  I learned from my Bulgarian Baba (grandmother on my mother's side) and Romanian grandfather/Italian grandmother (on my father's side).  It was natural, maybe inevitable to learn how to cook and be self-sufficient. 

Different times of the year brings different motivation to my cooking.  I, like many, get lazy at times to cook.  I like to create - but creating with a group or for a group is more fun for me. 

My vivid memories are holidays with Baba - baking traditional ethnic style cookies and pastries.  The Baklava, the zelnik, the dozens upon dozens of cookies and numerous nut and poppyseed rolls.  My Baba could roll against the best - always consistent and her breads were dense - she had strong hands and arms so bread dough did not stand a chance against her.  The problem - we ate the bread faster than she could knead it! 

The Italian side memories was me with my Romanian grandfather - cook in the Navy during WWII. He prepared most of the meals on that side of the family and all the traditional Italian sauces and meatballs.  Let's not forget the pizzelles!  Not one batch at a time...4 batches at a time and all day long.  Stacks of crispy chocolate and vanilla (with anise seeds) pizzelles all over the four tables in the basement.  He also made wonderful meatballs, usually once a year, so again not one pound but 20 pounds!  For the year of course.  Gnocchi and fried apple/cauliflower fritters during Christmas, apple strudel during the Fall.  You'd think he was still cooking for a a whole fleet when you entered the basement.  But when he got the itch, might as well make enough for the neighborhood too!

So, now I try to create those dishes and traditions in my own home...in remembrance of them. Baba is still around and still kneading away - I will put her Baklava up against anyone, and I mean anyone. I have eaten Baklava from NYC to California - from Greeks to Macedonians (am Macedonian on my mom's dad side) and no one, not a Greekfest or Greek Diner anywhere can compare to hers.

That is where my passion comes from!

Jason Vida
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