Kara Blitz: 40 years old; Palo Alto, CA.
We had family meals growing up. My sister and I traded off nights doing dishes. I remember lots of laughter and my mom doing her best to rotate the menu and keep my sister fed when she stopped eating meat at age nine.
My great-grandma’s stuffing recipe! It’s so basic and says holidays and family to me. As the years went on my mom had to make more and more versions for holiday meals: no raisins for Papa Judd; no chicken stock for my sister. Mom’s a good sport.
I am the Pastry Chef for Leonelli Bakery, as well as the Restaurant and Bar. I came to NYC in 2005 to attend Pastry School and just to move to New York! I kept winding up in restaurant jobs. There was a bakery job where I worked as a cashier, but I would always sneak back to the cake decorating room and ask them to show me what they were doing. I thought, “I think I could do this every day”. And then I went to visit a friend living in Manhattan and thought, “I could live here!”
I had left Lincoln Ristorante after eight and a half years and was taking time off in the beginning of 2020. In March I went down to Maryland to help my sister and her husband with my then two years old niece. Her preschool was shutting down for what we thought would be a couple weeks. Of course, I was there six months!
My niece and I cooked together a lot. Cooking with a toddler is a little different than cooking in a professional kitchen. I had to let go of any expectations. It brought me back to the simple joy of cooking to cook and have fun and being ok with making a mess.
This industry gives us the opportunity to treat our loved ones to great meals, but we miss a lot of holidays and birthdays. The silver lining of the pandemic for me was the amazing bond I got to form with my niece and the time I got to spend with my sister and brother-in-law.
Coming back to the professional kitchen as everything is opening up has been fascinating. Everyone is doing their best to navigate uncharted waters. I am always reminding myself to let go of what I think will happen.
I did a wedding cake a few weeks ago. Very simple, one tier, fresh flowers; but it was so clean. I felt it matched the room and the intimate reception.
There are so many places! But first, my husband and I will probably end up at the ramen joint in our neighborhood.
We are all very excited that Benno Restaurant is now open!