Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2019
Favorite class to teach: I’m a big fan of the pastry classes, and beyond that if a menu involves cooking with wine, I’ll probably like it.
Training/education: French and English degrees from The College of William & Mary; Patisserie diploma from Le Cordon Bleu Paris
Cooking since: Professionally since 2012
Favorite childhood food experience: Going out for grilled cheese and Shirley Temples with my grandparents on my mom’s side. My grandmother on my dad’s side made the best zucchini bread. And on New Year’s Eve, my mom would serve a whole meal of hors d’oeuvres—including my favorite, caviar pie—and I thought that was such a treat.
What made you want to become a chef? It’s amazing to be able to create something with your hands, from scratch, and immediately see how happy it makes other people. Why not seek that out in a career?
What is your signature dish? Well my specialty is pastry, so anything sweet I suppose. I make really good chocolate chip cookies. I love working with chocolate and making ice cream and candy too.
What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and cream
What do you love about cooking? It’s so satisfying to see a dish come to life before your eyes. Plus, if you’re tasting as you go (which you should be), there are built-in snacks!
When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot throughout my life, so I always look to international cuisine for flavor inspiration, as well as seasonal ingredients, trends, and my colleagues past and present.
What advice would you give a new cook? Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s just cooking! If you mess up, there’s always pizza.
What are you doing when you're not cooking? Probably trying a new restaurant or hanging out with my cat Marzipan. Or I’m traveling somewhere I haven’t been before.
Describe your perfect evening. Good friends, a few perfectly balanced Old Fashioned’s, and enough cheese to feed a small army.
If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Boka, Fatso’s Last Stand, and Pretty Cool Ice Cream.
Where are you from? I was born in Finland and moved around Europe a lot growing up, but northern Virginia, in the suburbs of DC, has always been home base.
What was your favorite vacation? Impossible to answer! Traveling is really important to me, I try to take one big trip a year.
What are your hobbies? I usually have a couple crochet and embroidery projects going. I’m also a big reader… novels, non-fiction, and I always read cookbooks cover-to-cover before trying any of the recipes.
What is your favorite band? Chvrches, Mumford & Sons, Leon Bridges, Ben Howard, The 1975...
What is your favorite sports team? Those kids in “The Sandlot”
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Henry VIII. It might not end well, but it would be one hell of a feast.
What are your guilty pleasures? Boxed mac and cheese, and totally over-the-top Christmas movies (at any time of the year)
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Stella Parks. She’s not exactly a celebrity, but in her book and online she dives deep into the science of baking, why and how things work, which is fascinating to me and just as important for home cooks to understand as it is for professionals.
What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen? Chef’s knife, wooden cutting board, set of mixing bowls, heatproof spatula, and a Kitchenaid mixer if you’re into pastries like I am.
What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? Honestly, YouTube is a great resource, so many reputable sources have channels now. Read cookbooks, talk to other people who cook, and most importantly, learn by doing.
List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.