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What's the Best Cooking Advice You Got from Your Mom?

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

A mom we love: Marion Cunningham (Marion Ross) of Happy Days.
A mom we love: Marion Cunningham (Marion Ross) of Happy Days.

Maybe they gave us some great recipes, showed us how to roll out pie crust just so, or perhaps they simply gave us the independence and encouragement to make dishes for ourselves. Whatever the case, moms are a major influence when it comes to our kitchen skills (or lack thereof). And with Mother's Day right around the corner (this Sunday, May 13), I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs about their moms and the most important cooking advice they received from them.

Bill Sandweg Owner Copper Star Coffee and Circle H Barbecue

Italian meatballs should be slow-cooked for most of the day. And for God's sake, don't stir them.





Joe Johnston Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia

We grew up where Joe's Farm Grill is, so we had citrus, pecans, peaches, and a huge garden. She taught us to use what grows right around your own house.




Michael Monti Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja

My mother had a lot of little tricks in the kitchen when she cooked for big family gatherings. One of things she taught me: If you put enough grated Parmesan in anything it tastes better.




Jeff Kraus Chef and owner, Truckin' Good Food and Experience Dining

That breakfast and snacks are the only meals throughout the day that can be eaten without the company of others.




Rita French Chef de cuisine, Province

My mom taught me how to make the best beef stroganoff, a recipe passed down from my grandmother. It's funny how you remember recipes taught to you as a child even though they weren't written down. Since my mom worked third shift as a nurse, I did a lot of the cooking for the family when I was growing up. She always knew I was going to be a chef one day. I guess I got an early start!

 

Romeo Taus Chef and owner, Romeo's Cafe

Patience! She always let me make the mayonnaise. Growing up in Romania in the '60s, we had to make our own. That will teach you discipline and patience.





Mike Wahlberg Chef, Vintage 95

Recipes are guidelines that can be changed and modified to do anything you want!






Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge

Not to eat at home! (Mom's wonderful and I love her, but nobody is perfect.) But my mom handed down a recipe from my grandmother for thick German-style noodles that I love. It's a real comfort food, a cross between spaetzle and noodles. Once in a while we make it at the restaurant.



Charleen Badman Chef and co-owner, FnB and Baratin

How to measure for baking. She had the plastic Tupperware measuring cups and spoons. She made sure to always level my dry ingredients. I was 6 years old.





Ehren Litzenberger Chef, BLD

To season and taste your food. I used to get spanked as a kid if I did not season properly.

 

Heather Nasworthy Head pastry chef, Carefree Station

Mom never served us a plate that wasn't colorful. For example, it could never be mac 'n cheese and corn -- too much yellow.





James Molinari Chef, Uncle Sal's Italian Restaurant

My family is 100 percent Sicilian, so as you can imagine, I learned a lot from my mom and the other women in our family, regardless if I wanted to learn or not. Living in a loud Italian family, you learn by osmosis.




David Viviano Chef, The Westin Phoenix Downtown

Less is more. Keep it simple. Start with good ingredients and cook from the heart. Also, never be late for dinner.






Vanessa Shaw Owner, Bueno Burger Mex-American Grill

I know how much it means to my family when I take the time to bake and cook. My mom taught me that and I try to model it for my kids. It's easy to skip it and do frozen junk or eat out, but when I take the time to plan, shop, prepare and serve homemade anything, my kids feel the love through my actions.


Shin Toyoda Sushi master at Sushi Roku

The importance of emphasizing hospitality with dining, even at home. When you share a meal, it should be a warm experience all around.





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