Global and Regional Cuisines

My name is Raphael and I’m a chef, writer, and food anthropologist. Born to a Swiss mother (French part) and an American father (with German roots), my life has always been multi-something… cultural, linguistic, two homes, two philosophies, two educations etc. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that I remember very little until the age of 5 or 6. I do, however, remember one thing vividly…food. Whether it be watching my great grandmother chop carrots for a warm carrot salad to falling into the neighbor’s campfire with a marshmallow stick in hand – all I can remember is that there was food, there was cooking, and I loved it. This early appetite for cooking is also due in part to my Grand-mother (on my mom’s side), my Great-aunt Cloclo, and my of course my mother. Their love for “les bonnes choses” (the good things), their familiarity with everyday French cuisine, as well as, more refined versions of la gastronomie française opened my eyes to food that was both simple and healthy, and incredibly rich, bold, and savory.

Also influential were my mom’s colleagues from the French department at the university. They would invite my mom and I for dinner and we would starve ourselves all day, awaiting their feast with great anticipation. Her colleagues where from India and Cameroon. Their cooking introduced my palate to garlic, ginger, masala, chilies, coriander and other bright and intense flavors. When I got home from their soirées I was eager to recreate their dishes myself. While many women have had an impact on my knowledge and curiosity for food, it would be a huge misstep to omit the next two, Nela and Lorraine.

The two are language professors with a passion for great food. Nela is of Columbian heritage and has opened my eyes to the art and science of flavor, fusion, the use of fruits in savory cuisine, as well as helping me develop an aesthetic for taste, art, and life. She has set my bar high and because of her I know when to have a real food moment, where we roll ours eyes and say… “wow… this is dam good”. Lorraine, like Nela, also contributed in shaping my relationship with food. Her knowledge of French cuisine and her life experiences in the French countryside bring more to the table then just amazing dishes and delectable tartes aux pommes. She brings stories, family traditions, products from her producer friends, personal anecdotes, all which make me think about Swiss-French regional specialties and delicacies I grew up with.

It’s impossible to condense my life and passion for food into a couple paragraphs. Luckily, I don’t have to! All I can really say is that this blog is a chance to honor the above people and many others, to channel my past, present, and hopefully future into something creative and enriching. My goal, therefore, is to share my worlds, teach others about food and cooking, and learn and connect with food lovers from around the globe.