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The Real Food Rehab Holiday Gift Guide: Kim Shambrook

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Those who believe that cooking is drudgery should spend some time in the kitchen with Kim Shambrook. The word is out that she throws the best parties in Chicago; Cooking Parties that is, where you learn to cook and eat in a professional kitchen with a group of friends, both old and new. I like to think of her as the Ellen Degeneres of the food world; she's grounded, unassuming and incredibly funny - a real woman of the people who makes everyone around her feel good. I think it's only a matter of time before she has her own TV show and then I can say I knew her when...

WHO Kim Shambrook is the Executive Chef and owner of Bespoke Cuisine, a catering and culinary company in Chicago. Growing up in rural Roberts, Illinois, Kim had her own pig farm at the age of 12. She also learned how to twirl a cone to perfection at her mother’s diner-cum-custard stand The Lickety Split. Kim played a regular part in the daily rituals of cooking and communal feasting as a child and her love of rural culture, simplicity, and seasonal tastes inspire her every move at Bespoke Cuisine. Kim also holds a BA and master’s degrees in education which she puts to good use during Bespoke Cuisine’s signature concept - The Cooking Party. With her singular brand of culinary moxie and a talent for making people comfortable in the kitchen, Kim is living proof that good food doesn’t have to be intimidating.

THE GIFT The pleasure of cooking with people you care about means so much. So, when thinking of that perfect gift for my friends and family, I often choose a specially selected cookbook accompanied by the latest or best kitchen gadget or ingredient. Depending on who the gift is for determines what cookbook is in order. For my sister (who emulates Martha Stewart), I try and pick cookbooks that are similar in Martha Stewart style but not familiar to my sister, like Donna Hay, the queen of Australian cooking. Her gift was the Donna Hay Seasons Cookbook and a small jar of wattleseed, a spice indigenous to Australia. For some of my friends, I pick cookbooks about cuisines that interest them but maybe they’ve never tried or cookbooks from chefs or restaurants that I admire. My latest favorites are Ad Hoc at Homeand How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food. I include a little note inside the gift suggesting that they pick a couple of recipes they want to try, pick a date and I’ll come over (with the libations, of course) to help them cook. It makes for a great memory – sharing good food and an experience with someone you care about.

Chicago, Illinois

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? my nieces, quiet time, thunderstorms and long and hot showers.

YOUR GO-TO DISH WHEN COOKING FOR YOURSELF? Roast chicken, root vegetables, and a big ‘ol vodka martini

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