I’ve always loved cooking. My mom is Italian; need I say more? In Italian households, food is an integral part of the family. We always had home-cooked meals every night and the whole family sat down together to enjoy them. Even when my mom went back to work, we did not deviate from this ritual. It ingrained in me to love and enjoy the camaraderie around the family meal. I find no pleasure in eating bad food and would rather skip a meal than be forced to consume empty calories.

I love gourmet food and don’t want to settle!

blue cheese burger constrained gourmet

Blue cheese aioli and barbeque red onions are a great addition to this burger, wine country California

As I grew up, I studied overseas and then went into business and the corporate world. For over 30 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur and made my own money. I was the co-founder and operator of the software company that my husband and I built and ran for 17 years. During that time, I was faced with many constraints in the business and juggling my goal of cooking gourmet, despite the long, long hours, stress and travel. I launched Constrained Gourmet several years ago, but only had time to dabble in it occasionally. Now, I split my time between consulting with startups, writing a fictional short story series on Stirring Stories from Around the Kitchen Table and Constrained Gourmet – it’s perfect for me!

I came across the idea for Constrained Gourmet when my husband and I rented a beach house one summer. The beach was amazing, but the house – really a shack is a better term – left a lot to be desired. The kitchen stove and oven barely worked – the oven only worked at 250 or 500 degrees and the heating element on the stove fell through every time you placed a pan on it.  There were no kitchen utensils, pots, pans or anything! I remember using a Ziploc bag to put olive oil on crostini. I was never happier than that summer!

pelican constrained gourmet

Pelican at Las Alamandas Resort, Mexico

The constraints did not bother me at all. I went home at summers end to my perfect kitchen with every gadget known to man and realized how unnecessary they were. I had one pan, one pot, one knife and a chopping board at the beach house and turned out exquisite meals. I realized that it wasn’t the kitchen that made me a gourmet – it was me. Constrained Gourmet was born!

I not only love food; I love the pleasure of eating and I decided to hold myself to a higher standard. When camping, I cook a gourmet meal on my camp stove. If I have unexpected guests, I whip up a gourmet meal from my pantry. If I don’t have much time, I make simple gourmet. If I have a picky guest, I see that as a challenge, not a burden. If I am cooking for someone that I don’t like too much, I plan the dinner around interactions that won’t focus as much as one-on-one conversation.

shellfish constrained gourmet

Shellfish cooked up right on the beach in the Turks and Caicos

My years in the corporate world taught me a lot about how to be resourceful in business. You can apply those same techniques in the kitchen. Use creativity and imagination and get excited about challenges instead of seeing them as unsurmountable. You, too, can be a constrained gourmet with that attitude!