Chiles for your health? Chef Jane Butel loves this spicy ingredient!
Jane Butel has established herself as an authority on American Southwest cooking with her years of writing and teaching about Mexican-influenced cuisine. She is the author of 20 cookbooks, the most recent of which, Real Women Eat Chiles (2006), explores the health benefits of incorporating chiles into the diet. She is also an educator and a television personality, operating her own cooking schools in Arizona and New Mexico.
Q: What made you want to become a chef? Was there an element of your family life growing up that led you to this career choice?
A: I came from a very foodie family – a third generation home economist, my father was an Agricultural Economist who taught farming as well as farmed himself. My brother is a milling engineer.
Q: What’s the best cooking advice you’ve ever received?
A: My Foods I teacher in College encouraged me to change my goals from fashion to food. She loved my techniques and palate.
Q: Who or what is behind your culinary inspiration?
A: I have always been fascinated with the Southwest and Mexico. I have third generation roots in New Mexico and grew up visiting Mexico a great deal with my Aunt and Uncle and just loved the food and culture.
Q: What’s the first meal you ever learned to cook on your own?
A: Scrambled eggs from my father when I was about 3 years old.
Q: What are the three tools you can’t live without while cooking a meal?
A: Good sharp knives, heavy, well-made cookware and quality utensils.
Q: What ingredient are you most willing to splurge on?
A: Good olive oil
Q: What’s one budget item that should be on every home gourmet’s grocery list?
A: fresh chiles – both red and green – for health and flavor’s sake
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an amateur chef?
A: Follow your dream but with eyes wide open to how hard the work is. Few ever make it to celebrity status because it requires lots of work and talent.
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