For 99.9% of my readers, you're probably wondering who I am and how did I make this happen. I am a mother of three daughters: Foustene, Solange, and Satiene. When beginning my quest, my youngest was in diapers, almost potty trained. Now she is twelve. Determined is a good word to describe me. I grew up in a large family: my mother who was a single mother and my grandparents in Dallas, Texas with their five other kids. We were a comfortable family, living very simply. My mother worked full time. My grandmother was the stern yet loving hand that helped raise me. Among the many different businesses that my grandfather had, a common theme was present: he loved food and people. My grandparents had several different restaurants. I had my first real experience and passion for wanting to please people through these years. I still remember being in the kitchen with the chefs and being their little sous chef. I learned quickly that food was a way to bring people together and also knew that it was to sway people. Having a little Yentl in me, I would use my limited culinary experience by making dinners for my mother and her dates.
When I found myself moving to California, I intended to move back to Dallas. It did not take me very long before I knew that California would become home to me. I began my journey by following some friends to Los Angeles. After a couple of years, I moved to Northern California to have a more seasonal climate. Eventually I married and had my three daughters. My background was business but how I loved to entertain. We were always having parties. Later on, I created a cooking school in my home for kids to learn some cooking basics. My friends would never refer to me as being one to do something half-baked. I thrived by putting in grueling hours to make that five course meal. Jean-Marie Fayat, a dear friend of mine who is a superb French pastry chef, convinced me to write a cookbook related to kids and families. Over 10 years ago is when my vision began. I knew that I wanted to incorporate families into my book and promote family bonding. At first I began incorporating executives such as the CEO of PF Chang's China Bistro Rick Federico and the Chief Marketing Officer of Hershey's Tom Hernquist cooking along with their kids. The thought being that the executives were positive role models that kids could look up to. My second cookbook idea was having celebrities cooking along with their kids. The publishers loved my concept of family bonding in the kitchen with high profile individuals but felt that I should start with the celebrity cookbook which I did. Cooking safely is of huge importance for me. Growing up cooking in my home at a young age, I saw things happen because there was not any adult supervision. Accidents can happen to both adults and kids but they are less likely to happen to kids if there is adequate adult supervision. I still remember the fire trucks coming over on more than a few occasions to my house. Incorporating me cooking with the young celebrities was my way to get this message across. Throughout my book, you will read many stories about how I met these celebrities and how their photo shoots came about. I can honestly say that had I not followed through on every lead, from reaching out to a restaurant owner, to a real estate agent, to a make-up artist, some great PR friends! I once even reached out to an owner who sold concert tickets. Without this drive and support, I would have never made it to where I am today. Education is the biggest message in my book: not only educating families about the importance of balance and moderation when enjoying fun foods but also giving back to the public schools in Los Angeles where most of these celebrities live. If you have a passion and are in a position to make a small difference, then you should. I hope to send this message about giving just a little back. Our family is donating fifty percent of profits from this book to the LA public schools through Kevin Sorbo's non-profit A World Fit For Kids. If we are in a position to gain, I believe that we are also in a position to give. I hope that you enjoy all of the gorgeous photos of the celebrities with their families. I had some of the most inspirational moments as this project moved along. I would like to be able to say that this was an easy book to make but it wasn't. Our family made many sacrifices and experienced difficult hardships along the way during these past ten years. However, we also had some wonderful support from our friends and during financial hardships we also had support from our children's schools and mortgage companies. There is an acknowledgement page for all of those who supported my project. I would never suggest that one go through the sacrifices that our family made but, what I can say, if it is in your heart and you have the will and desire to succeed, then believe in yourself and pursue your dream. No matter how many people may tell you it will not work, only you yourself can make it happen: you have to have the desire to do so. For me, I began my dream and I wanted to finish my book. I wanted to succeed at what I started not only to send my messages about making time with your family and bonding through meal time but also to show my own daughters that, if you really want something through your labor of love, it is possible. I hope you enjoy my recipes and my stories regarding my experience with these wonderful celebrities and their families. Thank you for supporting education and supporting my message of promoting family bonding in the kitchen.