TSFIREFLY'S MENTOR PROFILE

Hi, I'm tsfirefly.

I'm a mentor in Appetizer, Dessert, Cake, Fondant, Camping, Crowd Cooking, Dinner Party


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My Appetizer Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I'm a former professional caterer and baker...Lots of experience, lots of lessons learned, lots of advice to share!


What inspires me in this category:
New cooks can make a huge impression with a great appetizer -- immediate success can be found in the smallest places!


Experience:
I was a professional caterer before my kids required a chauffeur-mom rather than a chef-mom


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Presentation and taste are more important in an appetizer than in anything else...you have one chance to make people WANT to eat it, and one or two bites to convey everything to make them want more!


Books, classes, teachers that have helped me:
Alice Waters and Thomas Keller -- great ingredients, great presentation.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and award winning chef

My Tips:

  • Two bites max...larger proportions make for lousy appetizers.

My Dessert Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
Former professional caterer and professional baker, including wedding cakes and ethnic desserts...lots of experience, lots of lessons learned, lots of advice to share!


What inspires me in this category:
A beautiful dessert is the last thing your diners remember...and desserts are what intimidate so many people...yet no other food can bring so much pleasure!


Experience:
Former professional caterer and professional baker, including wedding cakes and ethnic desserts


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Baking boils down to chemistry and good ingredients...baking flops come from bad chemistry more often than they come from bad baking!


Books, classes, teachers that have helped me:
My grandmother taught me how to make sugar roses when I was 8...these days shows like "Ace of Cakes" inspire my kids and prove to me that I'm not nuts for staying up all night to carve out a 3-D Cat in the Hat Cake balancing a fish bowl on an umbrella... Anyway, the magazine Chocolatier and the book The Plated Dessert helped me when I first started taking desserts seriously.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and professional baker -- there are times when I think I bleed fondant!

My Tips:

  • Get the basic chemistry right, and then play with the flavors to your heart's content!

My Cake Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I'm a former professional caterer and professional baker, including lots and lots and LOTS of wedding and other cakes...Lots of experience, lots of great tips and hints, lots of advice to share!


What inspires me in this category:
Edible art...what could be better?


Experience:
Former professional caterer and professional baker, including lots and lots and LOTS of wedding and other cakes


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Practice makes perfect. Cakes given to others, no matter how happy you are with your own work, bring so much joy -- so don't sweat your mistakes, because chances are you're the only one who will notice.


Books, classes, teachers that have helped me:
Grandmother taught me how to make my sugar rose when I was 8...since then the list is way too long to type!


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and baker, including many wedding cakes and other celebratory sculpted cakes under my belt. Lots of awards, but nothing as valuable as the look on a bride's face, I swear...

My Tips:

  • Crumb coat = perfection and worth the extra step every time!

My Fondant Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I'm a former professional caterer and professional baker, including tons of wedding/celebratory cakes under my belt...and yes, I did make my own wedding cake! Fondant used to intimidate the heck out of me...but a few tips and hints can make it so much fun you'll never make a cake without it again!


What inspires me in this category:
Edible art...what could be better?


Experience:
Former professional caterer and professional baker, including tons of wedding/celebratory cakes under my belt...and yes, I did make my own wedding cake!


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Fondant is like play doh...when you stop having fun, it's time to move on. Good thing that fondant is a blast...


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and professional baker, including lots of wedding cakes...my own, too!

My Tips:

  • Perfect fondant comes from a really good crumb coat underneath...it's worth the extra time and care!

My Camping Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I'm a former professional caterer and baker, but even more important is that I've been a camp director for 10 years, a backpacker for 30. I've devised and prepared meals for dozens of groups of backpacking teenagers, camp meals for 150 using no electricity or running water, meals for camping families, snow camping meals, and seriously gourmet 8-course feasts for two using nothing but a campfire. No one has eaten better in the wilderness. No one.


What inspires me in this category:
Good food, perfect environment, no civilization...nothing could be better!


Experience:
Former professional caterer and baker, but even more important is that I've been a camp director for 10 years, a backpacker for 30. I've devised and prepared meals for dozens of groups of backpacking teenagers, camp meals for 150 using no electricity or running water, meals for camping families, snow camping meals, and seriously gourmet 8-course feasts for two using nothing but a campfire.


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Food always tastes better in the outdoors, sure...but just because you're in the wilderness doesn't mean you have to skimp on flavor and style!


Books, classes, teachers that have helped me:
The THOUSANDS of young girls, women and staff who have come through my camp.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Aside from my professional chef/caterer past, my experience cooking in the Sierra Nevada wilderness has brought camp cooking to a whole new level...you'll never eat freeze-dried food again.

My Tips:

  • Vacuum sealing is a camper-chef's best friend.

My Crowd Cooking Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
Former professional caterer, and chef at a camp where I cooked for 150 at a time. And hey, with six kids (including 3 teenage boys), every single meal is cooked for a crowd these days! Lots of experience, lots of advice to share...


What inspires me in this category:
Anyone can find success in a recipe that "serves 4"...the challenge comes when you find yourself faced with tasks like having to crack 14 dozen eggs or some such thing...how fun is that?!?!


Experience:
Former professional caterer, and chef at a camp where I cooked for 150 at a time.


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Timing is everything, and you can never have a pot too big.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and chef for a camp of 150.

My Tips:

  • Master timing, and the rest is easy. Spend extra time planning so that you can finish everything on time!

My Dinner Party Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I'm a former professional caterer and baker...plus loads and loads of themed dinner parties under my belt, both personally and professionally. Lots of professional and personal experience...plus hey, with 6 kids, every single night is a dinner party in my house! And dinner parties are about more than just good recipes...the details and planning make a meal into a party. Focus on those, and any recipe can become party-worthy.


What inspires me in this category:
Good food was made to be shared with great friends...


Experience:
Former professional caterer and baker...plus loads and loads of themed dinner parties under my belt, both personally and professionally


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Fire melts fishing line. Yeah, I discovered that when I built a Moroccan tent in my living room for a Moroccan dinner party for 30 friends, and I hung beautiful Moroccan lights from the corners...by fishing line...oops.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Former professional caterer and baker, tons of award winning dishes...but more important is all the crazy and wonderful dinner parties I've either hosted or catered -- everything from Moroccan to Ethiopian, Soups Only, Appetizers Only, Casino Night, Greek, Chocolate and Wine Tasting parties, Tea parties, etc...

My Tips:

  • The impact is in the details, and your guests will appreciate the care you put into the little things.
  • You will be your own worst critic. Remember that your guests are there to see you, not just to eat your food.

MY PHOTOS

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