About Mike

I’m all for due diligence.  Time is scarce!  Browse our site only if it’s worth your time.  I thought some biographical information might help you decide.

Tastes

I’m Filipino-American, as in my parents are from the Philippines and had me after they moved to the United States.  I’ll try anything once.  But for my wife’s preference for variety, I would cook Italian food most nights of the week.  I’m trying to figure out what of all the cuisines I’ve tried will end up sticking with me.  I prefer both high-end and low-end food to mid-priced restaurants, and we try to limit restaurant eating to one night a week, usually succeeding in sticking to this.

One thing I have in common with Derrick Rose is a deep appreciation for pizza.

How I learned to cook

I’m self taught.  Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything was invaluable when I started cooking in 2005.  It’s made me comfortable cooking without recipes.  Good Eats was also influential.  I’ve been moving away from those sources to explore new things.

I can serviceably cook most supermarket ingredients for weeknight dinners.  Over the last few years I’ve been adding less common Asian and Latin American ingredients to my pantry and refrigerator.

Surprisingly, Top Chef has been useful in pushing me to think more like a restaurant cook and less like a recipe user, as well as testing my knowledge of modernist techniques, i.e. knowing generally how a modernist element on a plate was made.  For what it’s worth, a year of listening to the Cooking Issues podcast has made a huge difference for me on the latter.  When I need to nail something down, I consult Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking and Keys to Good Cooking as well as Modernist Cuisine.

My favorite ethnic cookbooks are Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens.  I also reach for Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty on a regular basis.  More recently I’ve been moving to free resources such as the recipe databases at Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Saveur and — after a long time away — the cookbook collection at my local public library (apparently there are many food lovers in my town).

Learning for me is usually project-driven, i.e. a collection of tasks serving some larger purpose.  These projects generate material for the blog.  My hope is that the projects and the blog are complementary.  We’ll see.

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