It’s hard to write about Nana without some sort of tears. I think about her all the time. If you look closely at the picture of her and Grandpa Mike (This was taken on their 50th Wedding Anniversary back in 1987) you will see those strong beautiful hands that captivated me as I watched with great amazement how she used to master chopping an onion all while engaged in a conversation with me over the kitchen counter. I could have sworn that one day I would witness the horrible accident of her chopping off one of her fingers (she was so fast and flawless). But thankfully that accident never happened. Nana was truly one of a kind. Everything she touched pleased the taste buds and warmed the stomach. The front door of her and Grandpa’s home was always open. Her little humble Kitchen was always cranking and the laughs, love and stories we all shared in that space are some of my fondest memories. Blissful memories that have stayed ever close to my heart all these years. Im so blessed to carry her blood in me- She was priceless and she was the diamond rock of the Castanon Family.



Mama- All love – Every second – Every day

How can you begin to describe the woman who helped you grow up to be a woman? Well I will try. My mama was a stay at home lady of the house. She and Papa are high school sweethearts who have been married for 45 years now. Growing up mama helped mend my summer boredom but introducing me to a delightful little cookbook that had recipes from children around the world. I found it fascinating and I wanted to make everything in it. As teenagers she put my brother Steve and I to work in the kitchen by assigning us the duty of cooking dinner for the family on Monday nights (while she supervised and gave tips) all while refining our cooking skills. My favorite Mama dishes are her Spaghetti and Basil Pot Roast…….Um Good!


Ms. Paula – A True Southern Belle – An Original

I still LOVE her. In 2006 I had the wonderful experience of attending her cooking school in Savannah, Georgia. She was true Southern Hospitality at it’s best! Nothing pretentious just all love and a lady who built and huge empire with a dream, $200 and a lot of blood sweet and tears. I loved her honesty and her passion for all things Butter and Fried Chicken. It’s because of her that I make a really mean “Shrimp and Grits”.



Oh Thomas – How Talented Art Thou Ways – Too many to count

My favorite American chefrestaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

In 2005, he was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry. He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.





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