Could I too drink a spritz with my hubby on the Italian Riviera and frolic with him lovingly in the waves…like I don’t regularly tell him about delayed diaper changes and too many episodes of Bluey in a row? Could I live in a house with soothing cream-colored plush Nancy Meyers-style furniture with two young children?
No Unfortunately. I know I couldn’t get anything out of it. I am too tired. But, while I know I’m not cut out for this particular lifestyle, it’s undeniably nice to aspire to. How does she handle all of this? And what does a family dinner look like at her house, for real? We took a look behind the cameras to learn more about this foodie mom and beloved TV host.
What was “family dinner” like at your childhood home? Who cooked?
Whether the day was good or bad, the table was where we connected at the end of the day.
I feel like I was very lucky to be able to have dinner with my whole family every night growing up. It was really important for us to sit down, have a home cooked meal and talk about our day. Whether the day was good or bad, the table was where we connected at the end of the day. I have two kids now, and I felt like it was something I wanted to continue in our family. It kept us close, it kept us up to date with what was going on in each other’s lives.
What was your first experience in the kitchen? When did you fall in love with food?
Growing up, my mom cooked almost every meal, so I didn’t really find my passion for food until high school. After school, I procrastinated by eating snacks while watching Food Network, and that sparked a passion for cooking and baking, and it inspired my culinary career. When it came time to go to college, I didn’t go to college, I went to cooking school. I went to Le Cordon Bleu in London, and while I was there I also worked part-time in restaurants. It was just one of those amazing life experiences.
I know that travel is an integral part of your life. Where did you grow up? Have you always had a passion for travel?
I grew up in Toronto but my dad is Israeli so I spent a lot of time there and we have always traveled a lot. Moving to London for a cooking school was a no-brainer for me. While I was living there and preparing for my Grand Diplôme at Le Cordon Bleu, I worked in restaurant kitchens, but I also traveled a lot. I was traveling to Italy or Prague on weekends – literally everywhere in Italy and France. Being in London everything is so accessible and we sort of went there. I loved to travel. And that’s where I started to connect my love for cooking with my love for travel. After graduating, I backpacked in India for about a year, then lived in Israel and worked in kitchens there.
How has travel inspired you in the kitchen?
I draw most of my inspiration from traveling, eating in different restaurants and learning about flavors, techniques, flavors. Travel really inspires my everyday cooking. There’s nothing higher than eating something life-changing and truly excites you, then sharing it with your friends and family when you get home.
Did you come into parenthood with any particular hopes for the role family food and dinners would play in your life as a mother? How did this happen in reality?
Let’s be honest here – I’ll make butter noodles at least once a week or maybe twice. Or maybe more!
I always wanted to have a home that was open to new flavors and where my children were in the kitchen with me. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that, actually. Like, last summer we planted a garden and every morning we water together. We cross and Romi, my one-year-old child, picks cherry tomatoes from the vine and nibbles them in the morning. We are a food-connected family. I really want to teach my kids where food comes from and I want them to enjoy it. When it comes to cooking and baking, it is also something that is a natural part of our life at home. I find the more my kids get involved in the kitchen, the more interested they are in it – they love getting their hands dirty. For example, if we bake bread together, Ayv immediately wants to slice it and give it to everyone. If we cook it together, she will eat it with so much joy. So she’s at the counter with me every day, cooking and baking alongside me.
It’s so interesting that you ask about the fantasy versus the practical reality of being a mother, because sometimes I cook like – let’s be honest here – I’m going to make butter noodles at least once a week or maybe two. Or maybe more! I grew up with it and I love it. It’s comfort. But, it really surprises me sometimes when I make a dish that I just assume Ayv won’t like, and then suddenly I’m looking and she’s eating grilled fish and salad. Food like this has been around her entire life, and she sees we love her.
Rule number one with me is that you can’t say you don’t like something until you try it. If you don’t like it and tried it? It is very good! But you can’t say you don’t like it without knowing it. It doesn’t escape me! Like, now my daughter loves fish eyeballs. My dad challenged her to do it once and now she loves to eat them. I swear, it’s like his party trick.
Do you use professional techniques in the kitchen that you learned in culinary school to help you cook dinner as a family? I know you associate yourself with Sir Kensington’s condiments – how do these factor into your weeknight dinners?
Obviously, cooking school gave me all the techniques I needed to get started in so many different cuisines. But one thing that doesn’t really require that level of technique is just getting familiar with flavor profiles and flavor combinations. I use quality ingredients to up my condiment game – condiments are an easy way to up your game. avocado oil from Sir Kensington. It’s just about playing with flavor combinations, using quality ingredients, and putting your own spin on things.
What do you hope your kids’ family dinner memories look like?
When I think about eating with my family, it makes me super happy. It’s a joyful thing for me and I want my kids to continue. I want my children to respect food and where it comes from. I want them to have a basic knowledge [of how to cook] and being able to walk into the kitchen and be proud of what they know.
For me, it’s about creating incredible and memorable family moments around food. Good food, good products, good quality food. I mostly think of memories of summer — being outside, getting your hands dirty, throwing everything on the grill and eating it fresh. We’ll throw the sprinkler and the kids will run around in their underwear having fun like never before. Meanwhile, we’re here just having a really nice relaxed barbecue. It’s just fantastic. It’s just about cooking and eating together – that’s what it’s all about.
Eden Zucchini Chips with Harissa Mayonnaise
⅓ cup Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
½ lemon juice
½ garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon harissa paste
2 medium summer squash, cut into ½-inch-thick medallions
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Neutral oil for frying (Eden likes either avocado oil or sunflower oil)
- In a medium bowl, combine Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise with lemon juice, garlic, harissa paste and season with salt and black pepper.
- Cut the summer squash into ½-inch-thick pieces.
- Get out three wide bowls. In one, place the flour and season with salt and cracked black pepper. In the second bowl, crack the eggs and whisk well. In the third bowl, add the panko and season with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Bread your squash. Place the sliced squash in the seasoned all-purpose flour, then dip in the beaten eggs. Place the seasoned panko and cover the squash all over. Place on a lined platter and continue until all the squash is breaded.
- Heat a frying pan and add the oil. When the oil begins to ripple, lower the heat to medium and add enough squash to cover the pan in a single layer, do not overcrowd. Fry until golden brown about 2 minutes, then flip and fry on the other side. When both sides are golden brown, remove and place on a paper towel lined plate. Salt and finish browning the rest.
- Once all the squashes are fried, add the sage and fry them for 10 seconds, remove them from the oil and place them on a plate.
- Place the squash and sage on a plate with the harissa mayonnaise and basil.