Happy fall, friends! After what seemed to be an interminably long summer, I’m so happy to usher in the fall. No, I’m not a Pumpkin Spice Latte aficionado but I do love to feel a bite in the air, see the leaves begin to change, and warm up the kitchen with a pot of chili or batch of cookies now that I can stand to use the stove again. 

Food is our focus in this issue and it’s one that I never tire of talking about. As one of the chefs in our “Where Chefs Eat” feature says, food is about relationships. The act of preparing food for someone can be the ultimate expression of love. It can also provide an opportunity for conversation and laughter. Heck, even my cooking fails have resulted in great memories for me over the years. 

I remember making (or more acurately, assisting in making) a paella for my best friend’s birthday. Her mother, who grew up in Spain was there, and she primarily took the reigns. I had grand plans of eating outside with our group of 17 (plus kids!) as we would all pass around dishes heaped with tasty favorites to celebrate the birthday girl. Instead, it started to rain and instead of cooking a magnificent paella, I had to try and shove 17 people (plus kids) into my crumbling sunroom. We ate in shifts and I cried in the bathroom at the failure of it all. This sort of thing NEVER happened to Martha Stewart. 

And you know what? My friend loved it. Was it the best paella in the world? No. Not even close. Was it a perfect tablescape, coiffed and bedecked with Iberian touches? Absolutely not. But it was a gathering of people that she loved and food that nourished us. I made the same dish again (by myself!) and it turned out much better with a smaller group seated in my dining room. The table was still messy but the intention and result was the same–gathering friends to enjoy a meal together. 

We have lots of good stuff in this issue from favorite eateries for Northland chefs to a culinary snapshot of Cuba told through the eyes of our writer, Peggy Parolin. I hope these stories inspire you to make a meal of your own, whether it’s lobster in vanilla sauce or peanut butter and jelly shared with your kids, and know that it’s not the ingredients that matter–it’s the love that results that’s important. 

Bon Appetit! 

Rachel