Chef Katie Picher
As a young girl, some my favorite moments consisted of going to Grandma & Grandpa’s house, of course for family time, but also because I knew my sister and I were going to get some good eats! Breakfasts were extravagant. Lunches were fun, hands-on meals. Snacks were endless. Dinner was practically a three-course meal. Needless to say, hunger was not an option there.
As I grew older, my love of food deepened while I learned more about the importance of local, fresh, seasonal, and organic concepts. I knew midway through high school that I wanted to pursue a career in food in some fashion. Right around the time I had that epiphany, Johnson & Wales was being built in my city of Charlotte, NC. It seemed like the clear choice. Junior year of high school I toured the school three times, knowing each time that I would attend the school. I just couldn’t get enough of their curriculum or time to watch students in their labs: attempting sauce recipes, baking elegant desserts, making a five-course meal. It was so exciting to me. Naturally, I enrolled and loved every minute of it. Going to school during the day and working the line at a country club at night, I just couldn’t get enough of this food world.
In order to truly experience the expansive nature of food and cooking, traveling was going to have to happen. I worked in a kitchen in the mountains of North Carolina dedicated to a plant-based philosophy. Produce grown on the property was used in the kitchen, which made me incredibly giddy. Next, I lived and worked on a farm outside of Charleston, SC. I wanted to learn how to grow beautiful ingredients and participate in the full circle experience of food. I somehow landed my dream job with an organization called Outstanding In The Field, essentially a culinary circus that designs farm to table dinners across the United States, Canada, and in Europe. It was such an awesome and rewarding experience! The team put a long, dining table literally out in the fields of farms, so people get a full understanding and appreciation of the ingredients. Top notch chefs in the area then create a five-course meal with local wine pairings. This experience really ignited the fire in my belly even more so with food, which I did not think was possible.
After all the traveling, eating, drinking, and being merry, I found that I missed my family, and surprisingly, missed the Carolinas. I found myself back in Western North Carolina, where I met my husband and continue to cook holistic, healthy, well-balanced food, embracing everything I’ve learned from my travels.