The end of the beginning

well as i get to know all of you, i feel that we must get to know each other. i have three mentors who have made me who i am. here i will interview them and then tell you a little bit about what i have learned from each of them.

first i will begin with my interview of Marisa Baggett. a starkville, mississippi native. now marisa is a black female sushi chef but that is skipping ahead a bit. marisa came to tsunami early in my tsunami career i will guesstimate about 2003. she was the only female in the kitchen but she still had the fellas’ respect.in tsunami the pantry station and the dish station is kinda partitioned off from the hot line and because of this there is a bond between those behind the partition as well as those in front of it. marisa was like the big sister i never had and she must know that the advice she gave me about life was invaluable to me. marisa was my window into the mind of women and so we always atleast in my mind had a very open and trusting relationship. after awhile marisa left to venture out to california and enroll in sushi school. i thought that was the last i would see of ms baggett but was i ever wrong. marisa returned and like a sitcom she would have a recurring role visiting tsunami and laughing about old times until a few years later marisa makes a return to tsunami. now i had heard of sushi but it was tales of fish so raw you could still smell the sea on them. for me this was not an appetizing thought. but marisa ,still in that big sister role in my mind, informed me that sushi meant rice and not raw fish. so over time sushi began to intrigue me, and then out of service to my employer and then out of my own interest i informed marisa that i would love to learn to make sushi. so she took me in as her apprenticed and so it began. our official mentor and mentee relationship. but aside from the food knowledge which i must give her credit for having it has been marisa’s fearlessness that has truly had an impact.  with a formal resturant or without, with dietary restrictions or not, against all odds marisa has survived and had success. her campaign to build her own brand is what inspired me to venture out and give this blog as well as catering a real go.

marisa is where my public relations savvy is borne from.

First what do you call yourself and why? A lot of preofessional chefs are against the word “chef” in their title, because of the arrogance that can be associated with the title.

I like to be called Marisa. It used to be that I avoided the title chef because of the arrogance and lack of skill some people considering themselves chef display. But now it really is more about accessibility. When I’m in the kitchen sharing tips, I don’t people to feel like “Well of course she can do it! She’s a chef.” Rather, I like to strip away the title (and often the chef’s coat!) so that I’m just Marisa, a woman who loves to cook, sharing my passion with others.

Where did you get you start cooking?

I’m from Mississippi and everyone in my family cooks. I think I was about 11 or when I began dabbling in food. Naturally, I was expected to contribute dishes for family gatherings, but I remember being experimental even back then. It wasn’t until I had an after school job a few years later working as a dishwasher in a home style Chinese restaurant that food really grabbed my deepest attention.

What are a few of your accomplishments?

After years of practice, I can make a caramel icing like my Grandma Pearl made. She was an excellent baker and unfortunately she became very ill and passed away before she had the chance to teach us young girls her secrets. It was one of her plans, but alas it was not meant to be. Being able to make her caramel icing and being transported back to a time when she would offer up thick slices of cake made with love means so much more than the professional accolades I have received. Next in line would finally being able to make a decent loaf of bread. If I’m not mistaken, I may have actually gone out and got a bottle of champagne to toast….yes, pun intended.

Besides good food what would you say is your mission in your field?

I want everyone to get back in their kitchens and cook! I like to imagine a world where between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, the stove goes on at some point and fills the house with some intoxicating smell. And dinner hits the table with perhaps something that has never been tried before, some palate stretching, made from scratch dish that was simple yet absolutely delicious.

What food trend are you happy to see?

I am happy to see lard. It is incredibly versatile especially for baking.

What trend do you hope or know is on its way out?

6. I’m hoping to see the last days of molecular gastronomy. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the creativity and thought that goes into it. It is beautiful. But I’ve never been really wanted to eat it.

What old trend will be making an resurgence soon?

Thanks to the growing popularity of Southern food, I think we’re going to see a rise in old fashioned church picnic style food. Jello-o mold salads, skillet fried chicken, fried fruit pies, chocolate pies. Reinvented versions of these things are likely to appear in restaurants and perhaps even as creative, two bite appetizers for weddings and other events. Food like this is fun but it’s so decadent that the smaller “I’ll just have a bite” portions will be too hard for anyone to pass up.

Memphis is known for barbeque, is that an accurate depiction of the best memphis has to offer?

Memphis has so much more to offer than BBQ. However, Ive kind of changed my position about media exposure of it. I used to be so against the local papers touting BBQ this, BBQ that. But I think it’s important to keep that tradition going, especially for tourism. Let’s face it, lots of people come here to get our famous BBQ. Heck, I like eat our BBQ. But what I would love to see happen, and I think it is beginning, is the alternative media promote and guide locals to the other side. With national award winning chefs, good food blogging, the allowance of food trucks, and a host of great ethnic cuisine eateries I think the Memphis beyond BBQ is coming to light

What are the latest developments in your career?

I am so pleased to have my first cookbook Sushi Secrets hitting bookshelves this fall.

Where can people follow you?

My website www.marisabaggett.com can get you plugged in. It’s where I keep the latest news and recipes. From there you can follow me on twitter and find my Facebook fan page. For the latest on Sushi Secrets check out my amazon author page amazon.com/author/marisabaggett

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