Good food, good company, and a great conversation–and especially the three in combination–are among the greatest of life's pleasures. I like to help others create space for such joyful experiences in their lives.
I originally came to cooking from a background in fashion design. Nowadays, I like to encourage my students to trust their instincts and be their own designers. Creative inspiration can come from anywhere: from a trip to the Southwest, from an encounter with a green zebra tomato at a local greenmarket, from that great falafel that you picked up on the corner, from reading an exotic memoir, from a "mistake" in the kitchen.
Cooking is a lifelong journey, and the path is fascinating in its unpredictability. My students range from vegans to omnivores. While the particular foods they eat may vary, they all want to eat well. I have observed that at some point or another in the course of life, one's eating habits will alter. What worked at one point may no longer serve. What one chooses to eat is an individual decision based on a myriad of factors. It is best to be honest, and if one way of eating no longer serves, perhaps you need a dietary reassessment.
I love creating flavorful naturally healthy dishes based on a Real Food philosophy with ethnic flavors. I am mindful of consuming and advocating traditionally raised and pastured animal foods. As a food designer, I am aware and interested in how flavors, textures, and colors go together, and ever enthusiastic to share and inspire others. On any given day, I am likely to have a slow cooking bone broth or some jar of something fermenting in my kitchen.
I spent years cooking vegan meals at Angelica kitchen, in New York City. My first book, The Voluptuous Vegan, reflects that experience. While I have never been vegan, or even vegetarian, I have come close at times. I did not find that it worked for me to be so strict. I do appreciate good vegetarian or vegan meals, and I cook them often. My subsequent two books are flexitarian and include some dairy, eggs, fish and poultry. My writing and editing address a wide variety of foods.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind. It's worth using the highest quality "real food" ingredients, locally grown or produced if possible. Try not to surf on the latest fad-based dietary wave. Savor ingredients that have been favored by long cultural traditions. For the best-tasting results, use healthy traditional fats (yes, fat makes flavor!), and remember– salt is your friend. High quality sea salt draws the flavors of a dish together; and furthermore, it's good for you. Seek out animal food - whether it's dairy, eggs, or flesh - from an animal that was raised humanely and traditionally, and consumes what it was designed to eat. Products from traditionally raised animals are now becoming increasingly available from local farmers. It is, in fact, getting much easier to find pastured eggs with bright orange yolks from hens that have been foraging outside.
What is healthiest for you is also what is healthiest for the planet. Local food is fresher, picked riper, and often grown without excessive pesticides. It also requires a minimum amount of fossil fuel to get to market. Furthermore, it just tastes better. Compare a peach so ripe and juicy that it falls apart as you eat it to the mealy versions so common in most supermarkets.
Nourishment is not only a matter of what we eat, but how we eat. Slow down, pay attention, and really taste your food. Keep in mind the pleasure, or "hedonist" factor. Also keep in mind that a meal should make you feel satisfied and lively after eating it. Splash love into your food, call down blessings on your kitchen, your family and friends, even as you wash and chop and slice. Nourish yourself and others as deeply as you can.
Myra Kornfeld has been a culinary
professional for twenty five years. She
has taught thousands of students in hands-on and demonstration classes as well
as cooking retreats. Myra trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health
and Culinary Arts and completed a professional pastry program at the Institute
of Culinary Education. She gained diverse experience in catering and in
restaurants such as Nosmo King, Le Cote Basque, and Verbena. A specialist in
natural foods cooking, she worked for six years creating innovative vegan
cuisine at New York’s Angelica Kitchen where, in addition to being the head
pastry chef, she developed menu items and cooked daily specials for 100
persons. Her first book, The Voluptuous Vegan, has gone into eight printings. Her other books include The
Healthy Hedonist: More Than 200 Delectable Flexitarian Recipes for
Relaxed Daily Feasts, (Simon and Schuster); Healthy Hedonist
Holidays; A year of Multi-Cultural Vegetarian Friendly Holiday Feasts,;and The
Voluptuous Vegan: More Than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes for Eggless,
Meatless, and Dairy free meals (Clarkson Potter, publishers).
Myra teaches traditional
cooking techniques, improvisational cooking, and cooking for people with food
allergies in the graduate nutrition program at the Maryland University of
Integrative Health. She teaches traditional food workshops and ethnic cooking
classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. She taught for years
at the Institute of Culinary Education, and has taught numerous private classes
to groups and individuals. Myra specializes in team-building events for special
occasions, and her corporate cooking parties include companies such as Banana
Republic, Jurlique, and Colgate Palmolive. Myra’s Kitchen is a laboratory where
people gather for celebratory events, cooking lessons, and cooking parties.
Myra has been on the
Today show in New York City, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and on a cooking
series for E-how. She has been a columnist for Organic Gardening and Vegetarian
Times. She is currently the head chef for myfoodmyhealth.com, and has a
featured video column each month. She is chairman of the Wellness Committee for
the Woman’s Culinary Alliance in New York City.
Myra has a degree in
design from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a degree in fashion
design from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.