Friends that know me well, know my love affair with food. Not just eating it, which is pretty great, but it’s more than that. I love reading about it, talking about it, shopping for it, cooking it, preparing it and now, writing about it. Food is an expression of a way I can love on those closest to me. As Julia Child was quoted saying, “people who love to eat are always the best people”. These are my kind of people.
The day I walked into Charlene Pratt’s bright kitchen, I was overwhelmed by all kinds of intoxicating delicious smells. It was lunchtime and I was starving. When we opened the French doors to Charlene’s kitchen, which happens to be the room she loves most, my mouth started drooling and my eyes glazed over. Yes, food has that effect on me. Charlene had prepared quite the spread for lunch for us…baked salmon, a bright green salad with a lemon vinaigrette, crisp roasted asparagus and little berry muffins. If this mid-day meal wasn’t enough, we also shared a glass of wine together while nibbling on warm chocolate chip cookies. Y’all, words escape me…have mercy!
The quote by Ina Garten, “I love to take something ordinary and make it really special”, reminds me of Charlene. She can effortlessly turn the most basic of food into a work of mouth-watering goodness. Who wouldn’t love every meal to be like that?
In her 20’s, Charlene learned the essence of hard work due to the demands of the high intensity food industry, while running every aspect of a restaurant all at the same time. At the age of 26, she was the first female general manager who also happened to open The Palm restaurant in downtown Nashville. She was driven and focused, and in return successful. Charlene also gained the palate for an exceptional glass of wine to accompany an even better meal.
Charlene’s love for food only grew after she had her daughter Caroline and decided to stay home. She literally taught herself everything she knows in the kitchen. She has crafted her passion into a skill that her family, neighbors and community appreciate. The expression, practice makes perfect is so relevant for cooking. The more you cook and practice, the better you get. The better your food tastes. It gives you strength and confidence, that I’ve got this. It has given Charlene that confidence with her fantastic food as well. Julia Child is quoted saying “learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun”. Charlene Pratt you are a pretty fierce woman! You inspire me to use my imagination and skill, and not to be fearful to experiment more in the kitchen.
The journeys we take and the paths we find ourselves on are quite interesting. Charlene might have always thought herself a career gal instead of a stay at home mom. Both jobs are equally important and valuable. She just reinvented herself to be the best at whatever her job was and is now. As women we are constantly doing that. Trying to remaining true to the core of who we are, yet still aiming for our goals and dreams. No successful person is ever just handed their dreams, they had to go out in the world and work for them. What are your dreams? Stand up for you and don’t let your fears talk you out of those dreams.
Charlene, don’t forget to set a place setting for me, I’ll be right over.