March 10, 2009
While visiting Portland last week, I was lucky enough to interview Nicole Rees, the author of Baking Unplugged. Funnily enough, it turns out that Rees is a fellow University of Kansas graduate, so I'm happy this meeting took place on two levels - I love connecting with fellow KU alum and Rees happens to be one of the friendliest folks you can have a coffee with while visiting Oregon.
Rees' love and extreme knowledge of food come across immediately in conversation, and it's obvious that the underlying concept of Baking Unplugged is a topic she is passionate about.
"I want first-time bakers, as well as people who have been out of the kitchen for a while, to realize that you don't need the $300 mixer to get the job done."
Rees has a rich professional history in the food industry. After graduating from KU, she moved east to New York City, where she trained as a pastry chef. Realizing early on that although she loved food, she didn't want to spend every waking hour of her life in a kitchen.
"As a pastry chef in New York during the mid 1990s, you learned very quickly that the waitresses were making all the money, not the pastry chef working long hours in the back of the house," said Rees.
She eventually landed an editorial assistant position at Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines.
Her editorial career evolved into a role as the Test Kitchen Director of Woman's World magazine. She has written for baking newsletters, blogs (including a stint at BHG.com, the website for Better Homes & Gardens).
Rees now holds the title of Food Scientist and develops recipes for some of the most prestigious publications in the industry and also oversees R&D for Innovative Cereal Systems.
Another interesting fact about Rees is that not only is she a whiz when it comes to cooking for people, she is also skilled in the art of making homemade dog food. Crediting her recipe for improving her pooch's quality of life, it's obvious her skills go way beyond the average chef.
Dog food recipe not included, you can buy a copy of Baking Unplugged at Amazon (retail price - $19.77).