Connecting Around Food
Vanessa Goode, Southern Indiana-based Instructor/Chef, slices pieces of her La Galette de Rois, the French version of a King Cake. The dessert is made using custard and sautéed apples.
“Cooking food is all about building community and sharing,” says Vanessa Goode, Southern Indiana-based Instructor/Chef. Her love of cooking, creating her own delectable recipes, and passing on this knowledge not only feeds her friends and family, but also caters to her creative zest. “It’s not only what I do for a living, but also my hobby and my passion.”
Vanessa grew up in Lima, Peru, and spent her teenage years traveling between Lima and Canada. Before submerging herself in her college studies, she decided to travel. She saw how deep connections were created when people shared their stories around a dining table. So she changed her original major in the medical field and followed her passion instead. “I immersed myself in an intensive course, and I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu Institute. It was wonderful,” Vanessa says.
“Whether I’m in the kitchen making something new and it turns out great, or there’s a lot of trial and error, I stick with it. When it finally turns out like I want — that’s a confidence boost. It’s a confidence boost when you get something accomplished,” Vanessa says.
At the Lima-based Le Cordon Bleu, an international chain of hospitality and culinary schools specializing in teaching French cuisine, Vanessa entered an intensive three-year program where some of her training included wine pairing, nutrition, and courses in pastry making, all under the tutelage of international instructors. After studying at this top culinary school, Vanessa gained experience in numerous first-rate restaurants before settling in Indiana.
Believing in the sentiment “everything leads to food and the building of community,” Vanessa shares her cooking expertise with several different local organizations. She works with MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen, which features demonstrations by Southern Indiana and Louisville chefs. For Vanessa, this is an environment that allows her to display her talent and “keep up my skills and open up to new concepts.”
Vanessa’s La Galette de Rois, the French version of a King Cake.
Vanessa also teaches nutrition, basic cookery, and introduction to the culinary industry at Prosser Career Education Center in New Albany, Indiana, to students from 21 area high schools. Vanessa passes on her over 20 years of culinary experience and looks forward to “time in the lab” introducing the students to traditional skills like preparing croissants by hand or learning how to debone a fish.
Vanessa tries to impart to her students that it’s this one-on-one time in the kitchen that creates the best memories. One of her early and best memories is making bread with her grandmother. “It’s all those memories that you share and then later on you try to recreate those things. I cook to bring those memories back,” Vanessa says.
If you’re interested in bringing out some old family recipes or creating some new family memories but the mere thought of holding a measuring cup scares you, fear not. “If you can read, you can cook,” Vanessa says. Following recipes is one way to feel grounded in your abilities. When you want to get creative on your own, Vanessa suggests starting simple. Begin with foods you like and ask yourself, “How do you make it ‘you’? How do you make it your own creation?”
“It’s all those memories that you share and then later on you try to recreate those things. I cook to bring those memories back,” Vanessa says.
If you’re an established at-home-chef seeking inspiration, Vanessa finds ideas from pictures of food, experiences, or simply wanting to try a new technique. “I’m always cooking whether I’m working or not. I’m always learning,” Vanessa says. “Being creative — it’s peaceful and then it’s rewarding,” because she can share her inventions with family or even (on occasion) her next-door neighbors.
Chef Vanessa’s love of “bringing people together” motivates her and the creative process keeps her coming back for seconds. Vanessa says, “It’s very intimate — a good meal. When you forget about time and you just enjoy that moment creating new memories.”