“Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.”
Pamela Keith is a classically French trained chef, whose professional experience includes executive chef, restaurant management, catering professional, culinary instructor, and food industry consultant. Pamela received her grand-diplome from the Ritz-Escoffier École de Gastronomie Francaise in Paris, and worked in a number of Michelin-star restaurant kitchens including L’Espadon in the Hotel Ritz, Michel Rostang, and Jacques Cagna.
Prior to founding CuisineStyle, Pamela served as Culinary Director and Resident Chef/Instructor for Draeger’s, one of the country’s most renowned gourmet retailers and culinary education centers. While at the Draeger’s helm, Pamela created their popular, private label line of retail packaged foods, Epicurean Classics. As a consultant to Williams-Sonoma, Pamela partnered with the retailer to develop their in-store cooking class and culinary demonstration programs. She has served as spokesperson for Nestlé Specialty Foods, and has shared her enthusiasm and knowledge of cooking with food aficionados from around the world through gastronomic tours of the Dordogne region in the Southwest of France.
Founded in 2003, CuisineStyle by Pamela Keith is the Bay Area’s premier, full service culinary events company featuring catered events for 10 to 1,000 guests; corporate team building events; cooking parties; party foods to-go; and a retail line of gourmet packaged foods and kits. Pamela started CuisineStyle as her own dream job, where she could cook creatively and share great food with others, across the table and around the world. Today, that dream is coming true on a daily basis.
TWELVE QUESTIONS FOR PAMELA
1. WHEN DID YOU START COOKING?
2. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
After many years in the business, I still love to cook. My work is creative every day. I thrive on the challenge of timing and getting it perfect. And delighting folks with fantastic food isn’t too bad, either.
3. BIGGEST COOKING DISASTER?
Actually, it was a teaching disaster. I had decided to teach a vegetarian cooking class. It was a sold-out event with a gorgeous French-inspired menu – avocado soufflé crepes, quinoa baskets filled with jeweled vegetables and a plum sauce, and for dessert, a layered citrus terrine. I’d presented the class and was serving tastings of the dessert, when one of the students stood up and asked with authority, “isn’t gelatin an animal product?” Of course, she was right. I rewrote the recipe with agar and sent it to each student.
4. WHAT DO YOU COOK AT HOME?
My daughter and I often cook together – it gives us some quality time. But I keep it simple because my life is a busy one – a tossed pasta, pan-roasted chicken breast on the bone, potatoes cooked in olive oil and sea salt, salad greens with fresh vegetables and a homemade vinaigrette.
5. WHAT'S YOUR COOKING PHILOSOPHY?
Cook with your heart – it feeds your soul. Despite being a chef, I’m still a mom in charge of making dinner happen every night. Getting the family together at mealtime is essential to our family “culture.” My advice for others is to find your rhythm and what works for you in the kitchen. If you need help, get it with good quality, preferably organic, packaged and prepared foods and then put your personal spin on the food. Ultimately, it’s not about making the perfect recipe or being a “gourmet” cook. It’s about gathering friends and family to the table for a good meal.
6. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE KITCHEN TOOL?
My hands and a sharp chef’s knife.
7. WHO'S YOUR BIGGEST CHEF INSPIRATION?
How fortunate for me to have been inspired by four people – my grandmother; Julia Child; my own teacher and master chef Jean-Louis Taillebaud; and my good friend, the chef and teacher Barbie Aknin.
8. "AHA!" MOMENT?
The moment I decided to leave my corporate job in the hospitality industry. I’d lost touch with food and misplaced my soul while at it. I went to Paris to learn the art of cooking French haute cuisine, and stayed a year. My joy returned, and I have never looked back.
9. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MEAL?
Just-picked greens with a Dijon walnut vinaigrette. Organic, plump whole chicken stuffed with lemon and rosemary and roasted at a high heat with vegetables scattered in the pan, cooked in the rendered juices, with a splash of white wine. Heirloom tomatoes (in season) with dollops of fresh chevre and extra virgin olive oil. When it’s cold outside, a creamy potato Dauphinois. Hunks of bread torn from a still-warm loaf. A ripe epoisse cheese. A piece of good chocolate and perfectly ripe strawberries. Or a warm nectarine and cherry galette served with my pal Nancy Young’s lavender ice cream.
10. WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE CHEF?
11. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COOKBOOK OR MAGAZINE?
I don’t use very many cookbooks, which surprises some people – my cooking comes from intuition and training. I do use Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking – I’m a Francophile, and a Juliaphile. Sometimes I use the Gourmet Cookbook. The Zuni Café Cookbook is a brilliant compilation of recipes. And for baking, I consult Flo Braker’s The Simple Art of Perfect Baking or I call my pal Alison Reich, the best pastry chef I know. Magazines? I subscribe to all of them, but I particularly enjoy Saveur, Gastronomica, and Donna Hay.
12. WHEN WILL YOU WRITE YOUR OWN COOKBOOK?
The proposal is in the works. It’s not just a cookbook. We’ll call it my story of cooking.