Meet the Catering Chef & GM of BernBaums!
The Fargo-Moorhead-West-Fargo community is full of talent, especially in the culinary industry. Talented folks from all over bring with them different and unique backgrounds, skills and passions to our area. And we want to take you inside their culinary masterminds. Let’s meet our community’s chefs in our Chef Spotlight!
This is a cantaloupe salad with whipped vanilla chèvre, toasted hazelnuts, candied grapefruit zest and blueberries with fennel oil and grapefruit thyme honey. Chef specials are typically made within the same week that fresh ingredients arrive, providing an everchanging array of creative dishes for the community!
Q. Where are you from?
A: I was born in Minnesota. Lived on the White Earth Reservation for most of my childhood. My culinary curiosity started at a young age. My family is farmers and garden growers. Cultivating and harvesting our own food always excited me. Then moved to northern Virginia when my mom took a job in Washington DC. In high school, I had a chef in a technical program that mentored me and influenced me to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York.
Q: Do you have unique education, background or mentor experience that helped you to where you are now?
A: My background as a farmer’s daughter taught me at a young age that I have to work hard for my food. The long hours my family spent harvesting or tending their own gardens helped me to realize the importance of respecting the ingredients that are brought to the table. I am also from a mixed lineage and my Native American culture has greatly influenced the power of my ingredients. Food is a gift and medicine. I not only want to create delicious food but I want it to have healing abilities. Each recipe I create has components of the dish with medicinal properties and are not only meant to appease the taste buds but also soothe aches and pains. In my educational career, I spent time honing my technical skills but also exploring how cultural practices and values change food and beverage. I spent time in China learning how they developed their flavor profiles and the ceremony around food. I have had the opportunity to be connected to some incredible chefs. Prior to culinary school, I went to France with my mother at took classes and the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. We learned to make puff pastry, a dough laminated with cold high-fat butter and dough. This experience inspired me to see how transformative culinary arts is and how my medium of art expression is so expansive. Culinary Arts is not only appealing to the eye it has the power to create lasting impressions on people with flavor, crunch and a feeling of fulfillment.
Q: What dishes/foods/cooking styles do you specialize in?
A: I love gardening myself and if we had a longer growing season I would eat fresh from the garden every day. So often the ingredients we are given require little manipulation to taste phenomenal.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a great meal? How do you try to bring that to people?
A: BernBaum’s makes slow food. Everything we make is from scratch and is labor intensive. We source from as many local farmers as we can and as a chef, I can provide a great meal but in BernBaum’s we have a huge team that takes pride in their work, and that is reflected in our food. The care that is given to the ingredients from the beginning and the atmosphere we build up in our dining room is what we strive to maintain at BernBaum’s.
Q: What would you say drives you as a chef?
A: Shared meals provide shared experiences. I know how I enjoy dining out with friends and family. I can cook at home and provide a meal for family or friends but when we go out I have the opportunity to really enjoy that moment with them instead of cooking and cleaning. Providing that experience for other people is what I hope I do. It is important to nourish our bodies but if I can help provide a moment of joy to someone by giving them an opportunity to relax with a tasty meal and good company I am going to do it. I was told early in my career by a very passionate co-worker that we should cook as if we are cooking for the love of our life. I do my best.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
A: I was always curious about what was going on in the kitchen and on occasion, I was allowed to experiment myself. As I got older I would try recipes or cook for my youngest sister before my mom got home from work. She was a little picky about what she ate so I would put on a children’s movie and if there was a dish served in the film I would make it for her. For Kung Fu Panda I made different kinds of ramen, for Ratatouille I made ratatouille. I knew it was what I wanted to do in 6th grade so my family was always supportive in letting me explore different programs through school or just cooking at home.