By Deb A.
The Family Table is a milestone for Agave Magazine + Press. Not only is it Agave's first cookbook, it's also the first co-authored book to be published by Agave. With so much excitement around The Family Table, we decided that five questions simply weren't enough. And so, dear reader, today we proudly present Part I of a special Five Questions series dedicated to the duo responsible for Agave's first look into food and family: Grant Macdonald and Ariana Lyriotakis.
AGAVE: What inspired you to create The Family Table?
ARIANA: Pretty much for as long as we've been together, about 12 years now, we have been tossing around the idea of a cookbook. In truth, we had planned for whatever we produced to be about Grant's journey as a chef in fine dining and classical French cuisine, but The Family Table took us in a completely unforeseen direction.
GRANT: For this particular book, we were most inspired by our children and by traveling. I find it so different to cook in a home kitchen versus a professional one, so the ways in which to best nourish a family of six can be challenging. We have lived all over North America and moved our kids around quite a lot; in a way, the story of your family becomes inextricably linked to food memory. It's a universal theme: food and with whom you share it. Plus, Ariana's writing and photography captures the true spirit of how we live and experience food, especially here in California.
Is there one place in particular that will always inform your cooking?
G: I think it's the arc of your life and maybe not one single place that defines it, if that makes any sense.
A: I would tend to agree. Each location has had incredible and distinct food offerings and I struggle with the fact that I can't have all of these things at once. If I could, I'd have a mythical city of amazing bake shops and patisseries, an endless array of cheeses, meats cooked over live fire, unbelievable heat and spice, diversity of ethnic food, exotic seafood and the freshest produce you can imagine, all enjoyed while watching dolphins and surfers on the ocean, roaming the desert, gazing at skyscrapers and puffing through the snow. This is what a fusion of Montreal, New York, Vancouver, Austin and Santa Barbara would look like.
What recipe are you proudest of?
A: For me, the Mixed Tarte Tatin with Cameo Apples, Grenade Pluots, Beurre Noisette and Fresh Sage. My left hand bares a thick scar as a reminder of recipe testing this one with four children clamoring at my feet on a steaming hot afternoon.
G: Country Chicken Gumbo with Goat's Eye Beans, Corn and Wilted Greens. This is a dish that I could eat often if I could, and it represents a fusion of times and places in our lives. Even the children love it.
What do you hope your readers will take from the book?
A: I hope that this will be a book that people reach for often when cooking, and not just let lounge on their coffee table (although we wouldn't mind that either!) We've divided it into times of day, seasons and celebrations, which includes something to offer every taste.
G: Hopefully, The Family Table will inspire others to take our recipes and to even transform them into something that suits their families, and to find their own stories contextualized in food and location.
Sweet or savoury?
A: Savoury. Unless we're talking about pie...
G: Both. No other option!
The Family Table is available for purchase in the Agave online shop.
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