Sunday, March 21, 2010

Light, Camera, Roll 'em ... A guest on South Florida Food and Wine

I'm in the Spotlight!

SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010

Maude Eaton, a great food-lover blogger... By Christine Najat

The expression what you see is what you get" epitomizes this week’s blogger in the spotlight. I met this woman about 4 years ago when she was the culinary director and gourmet food buyer for a high-end gourmet market in Palm Beach. I’ll never forget the specific day I met her; she was “doing a cheese demo”. I have never in my life seen anyone get so deeply passionate, so enthralled, so in love with food. It was cheese for God sakes! And yet, you were completely captivated by her ‘love’; it was as if she put you under some kind of food spell, this woman was absolutely bewitching about food; it transcended the moment and permeated the entire audience. I was in complete awe. Again, it was cheese people! This woman had her listeners quivering about cheese. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. So I figured if she can do this about cheese imagine what she can do with my product! Hell, my cookies will probably come to life around her. And sure enough, “for the love of food”, my cookies did come to life and our blogger in the spotlight made them dance off the shelves.

We became fast friends and she did not hold back, she did not sugar coat anything if she thought I needed to ‘adjust’ something she let me know it. You’ve got your original American Idol judges, Simon, Paula and Randy. Our blogger in the spotlight, she’s a Simon. If you’ve got it, she’s gonna help you get there if not, she will absolutely point you in another direction. Fast forward four years the store is no longer there, we’ve gone our separate ways and sure enough as fate would have it we literally ran into each other with food bringing us together; I found my dynamic friend, the lover of food, Maude Eaton once again. She is still the same, what you see is what you get. Take it or leave it, put it in a to-go container but this is it. Maude loves life. Maude loves food. Everything in this woman’s life is about food. Maude goes beyond being a “food person” I cannot explain it you have to see this woman in action and you too will be hypnotized with her characterization “for the love of food”.

A diva by definition is a woman who is a celebrated female singer. The term is used to describe a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera. So by definition a food diva would be a woman of outstanding talent in the world of food. If you’re in a room and Ms. Eaton is there you will undoubtedly look over and say, “oh there’s Diva” and you will be drawn to her, it is sort of a mystical pull, there is no way you cannot be brought into her orifice of “food love”. My dear readers get out your crystals and start burning your incense, I present to you the magical, mystical world of, “For the Love of Food”

SFFW: How did you start food blogging?
For the Love of Food: I don’t really call myself a “food blogger”…I’m more like a “Food Taster/ Lover ”… For me, writing can be a real challenge because I find it so personal and to top that, I am the procrastinator of all procrastinators, so posting on a regular basis is like pulling teeth! ! But I’ve always had something to say about food, the people that cook it, the restaurants that serve it and anything having to do with the culinary world. I’m a fanatic! I’m like a dog whose ears pop up when it hears a whistle. My heart beats faster and my eyes open wider when I talk or hear conversations about food. Be still my beating heart…So one day, I decided that I would just start my “blog” and name it “For the Love of Food”. The title of my first entry was called” Loosing my Virginity”! That’s how I felt about it, that once I posted my first entry, I would never be able to go back. My cherry would be popped! I was now able to join the “popular” kids and talk and write about my experiences just like they did.

SFFW: Do you do anything else other than blog about food-wine-beverage?

For the Love of Food: I went to culinary school in New York City at the Institute of Culinary Education. I didn’t attend school to become a chef in a commercial kitchen but more to feed my hunger to know it all… For the love of food… Today, I do some catering, culinary consulting, promoting, and event planning. In my past life, I was purchasing director for boutique gourmet food stores on Palm Beach Island. I even had a mini Television show called “Divalicioso” on Spanish TV. Basically, I’m in love with all aspects of the culinary world. But, I find that what I truly enjoy is teaching cooking classes. It gives me a chance to share and engage in my perfect fantasy world, and it feeds my insatiable need to be the center attention! Ha Ha Ha! And to think I was a shy little girl!

SFFW: What is the most challenging thing about blogging?
For the Love of Food: My main challenge is putting words on paper and making it come out ok. I am too self-conscious about my writing, but that’s starting to evaporate. I also have a tendency to compare food to sex and sensual pleasure. So you will hear me use terms like ”foodgasm” and describe a biteful as ” roll your eyes back and moan”… A challenge, not so much, but I do find myself having to sensor what I really feel! And the next challenge is being consistent with posting. God knows I have plenty to say and write about. I always find myself having so many food adventures that I could easily share if I was disciplined enough to post. Something to work towards.

SFFW: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from blogging for you?

For the Love of Food: I have met my foodie soul brother and sisters. I have shared food fantasies and many laughs. I get to live vicariously through others and they through me… Food is such a beautiful thing! I grew up in a multi-cultural home and that’s how I ate. My father was French and my mom Cuban. Blogging, Twitter and Facebook have become my international dinning table. I love it!
SFFW: What is your most memorable blogging moment?

For the Love of Food: There are many but, one of my most memorable “foodie” moments was when I had the opportunity to interview Chef Eric Ripert in his “Bat Cave” office below his restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City. It was just me, his 600 +Cookbooks and his gorgeous crystal blue eyes… I was so excited and nervous at the same time. This was my first real interview. I went all prepared with old fashion tape recorder, a list of questions, a few gifts and my “just” whiten teeth. SCORE!!! We spent about one hour talking about his culinary background, Buddhism, Spirituality and our similar love and respect for food and being of service. He even invited me to join him in his kitchen and I said I’d cook him Persian food next time he visited Palm Beach. I have no shame! Half the time we spoke in French and the other in Spanish and English. You can imagine I left his office walking on cloud nine. LOVE HIM! (Thank you Paul for arranging it). Another “foodie” moment was my several encounters with Paul Newman and his beautiful wife Joanne Woodward shopping for produce in Connecticut. We must have had serendipitous timing. He so graciously would say ” so we meet again” and I would just blush and giggle as we squeezed avocadoes and tomatoes.

SFFW: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
For the Love of Food: Oh man! This is a hard question because I’m such a mood eater. I have to have a “taste” for it. But I would have to say an eleven course tasting menu. Today’s mood calls for it to be cooked by Scott Conant and Daniel Boulud. I would want to start with Champagne, and wine would have to be paired with all the courses. Foie Gras, Burrata, Caviar, polenta and short ribs would have to be a part of my gourmand farewell. Add a ruby grapefruit sorbet to cleanse my palate somewhere in the mix. To finish, warm chocolate lava cake and French apple tart. I’m ready for HEAVEN!
SFFW: What super-action-hero would you like to be and why?
For the Love of Food: I love this question, because I spend a lot of time fantasizing. I would be a combination of Goddess Mighty Aphrodite and the Cat Woman…purr Seduction and Spice and everything Nice … Need I say more?

SFFW: Do you have any wacky cooking habits?

For the Love of Food: Well, the other day I was giving a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma and someone asked me a similar question… my answer just spurted out of my mouth and my secret revealed. I like to cook in my underwear and a tank top. But I do wear an apron because I have a habit of wiping my hands on my hips. With that said, I also need to stir it up with some music in the background.

SFFW: What is the best food advice you have to share?

For the Love of Food: The best advice I think I give to my students is to purchase the freshest and best ingredients you can. If you are going to cook Indian, go to the ethic stores and buy as authentic as possible. It will absolutely make a difference in the final product.

SFFW: What is your one obsessive kitchen habit?

For the Love of Food: I am known to be a messy chef. I have a tendency to wipe whatever is on the counter to the floor and it’s not a pretty picture after I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner or catered a party.

SFFW: If you could choose to be any food, what would it be?

For the Love of Food: I would be a beautiful, full bodied with floral and herbal notes Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I would even bathe in it if I could…

SFFW: If looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
For the Love of Food: Boring!! Ezekiel bread, organic egg whites, Bonne Maman Four Fruit jam, Light Yogurt, half and half and Starbucks Breakfast blend coffee. I always seem to have fresh herbs in my fridge too.

SFFW: What is the one “staple” food you always have in your cupboard?
For the Love of Food: Rice, olive oils , San Marzano tomatoes

SFFW: What is your beverage of choice?
For the Love of Food: Champagne and Volvic Water. It used to be Diet Coke.

SFFW: What is your favorite comfort food?
For the Love of Food: Cuban Palomilla Steak with white rice and black beans.

SFFW: What is your culinary claim to fame?
For the Love of Food: When people have stopped me and said “you’re the DIVA! I’ve taken your classes”. I get all shy, but secretly I’m glowing.

SFFW: What is in your kitchen junk drawer?
For the Love of Food: I try not to have junk … it’s more my kitchen utensils drawer. You’ll find my microplane, spatula, whisks and Heineken Light beer caps because I pop the bottle over the drawer that holds the opener. Lazy!

SFFW: What is the best culinary gift you ever received?
For the Love of Food: An all paid culinary trip to Italy. 14 days and 2700 miles of FOOD and WINE! Glory!

SFFW: What kitchen chore do you dislike the most?
For the Love of Food: Oh God, I hate doing dishes and loading and unloading the dishwasher. That’s what my kids are for, when they are around!!

SFFW: What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten and where?
For the Love of Food: I’m pretty adventurous, to a point. Recently, I attended the Best of the Best event at the South Beach Wine and Food festival. The chefs from Animal in California were presenting. I didn’t really look to see what they put out, as the stations were crowned with hungry foodies. So I picked up the plate and put in my mouth something I would of thought twice about had I known. It was Headcheese… from the pig… YUK! It didn’t taste bad, but the thought makes my stomach curl.

SFFW: What is the most bizarre thing you ever did with food?
For the Love of Food: Slather it on my ex- husbands’ body. Not bizarre but delicious and sticky! YUM!!!!

SFFW: What is the most extravagant food or beverage item or culinary tool you spent money on?
For the Love of Food: I have a thing for knives, good knives. I also love wine and I’ve been known to spend $$$$ on bottles and lastly, Caviar, Beluga when it was available.

SFFW: Where was the best meal you ever had? And why?
For the Love of Food: I’ve had the privilege of having many incredible meals and drinking the liquids of the Gods in abundance. For this I am very, very grateful. But what stands out the most in my mind are meals I have shared with people I love and laugh with, whether it was foie gras and Sauterne or a Gray’s Papaya hotdog and a diet coke … These are the best days of our lives!

You can follow Maude on her Blog at “For the Love of Food” and on Twitter @4theloveoffood

To read previous blogger in the spotlight interviews look in the right hand column under South Florida Food and Wine musings.