If you can believe it, I never dreamed of being a chef. The last thing on my mind at 20 years old was cooking. I wasn’t the girl who stood in the kitchen for hours watching mom cook and learning from her (something I regretted later when I married and struggled with cooking). I’ll never forget my first chocolate pie. I forgot to add the milk and instead of pie we had fudge, or the burnt chocolate chip cookies my kids so nicely ate and said were good. They love me.
So, you may be wondering, how in the world did you fall in love with cooking and food? There are things that lie dormant in every one of us, and they aren’t discovered until either they are forced by circumstance or by surprise. Mine was a little of both. As a single mom of four very different kids who loved very different food, I loved creating special meals they would all enjoy.
In doing so my gift for food was unleashed. I was beyond the fear of the unknown so I was able to finally, fully engage and release my inner chef (smile). It was amazing to see all that was in me and the creativity I had in putting together great recipes my kids loved. This led to friends and family requesting me to do events and encouraging me to do more with my food than just keep it in the family. Which then led to me stepping out further into what eventually became a full-blown restaurant with all the recipes my kids grew up loving; the ones my mama taught me; and the new ones I created.
We went on to serve hundreds of people a week for several years and I found it to be one of the most fulfilling seasons of my life. It was a beautiful thing to work with all my children and enjoy the memories we created, memories we will have forever. My son Aaron became a front of the house manager, my son Jake ended up cooking, my daughter Madison help manage and my daughter in love helped wait tables on the weekend. It really bonded us together and gave us so much joy to see people happy simply because they had a great dinner or some of our homemade pie. We created community at Mama’s Caliente Kitchen. We prayed with people, loved on people and they loved on us. We are still friends today with so many of the people who graced our restaurant and best gift ever, it’s where I met my husband Kevan Robinson and where my son Aaron met his soon to be bride, Jodeci.
Food has the power to connect and bring people together in beautiful ways. Food for the sake of food is just that- good food. But food for the sake of bringing people together so they can laugh and enjoy doing life together is something short of miraculous. We have seen some great miracles at Mama’s Caliente Kitchen and I hope to see many more miracles here with you as we connect over some wonderful food.
I grew up in one of those families where noise, adventure, spontaneity, and tradition were a way of life. I could always count on a hot meal with the family at about 5:30 every night and on Sundays after church we all would gather around a table whether it was at home or in a restaurant. It’s how we connected…over food.
We always knew when mom cooked we couldn’t be late. Mom wouldn’t tolerate it. I can understand with a large family. There isn’t much room for anyone to get too out of line (smile). Our family is so far from perfect. In fact there are times in my life where I’ve actually felt like I’m living one of those Hollywood reality shows.
My passion for family comes from a deep place. My mama made sure she instilled it in us and she also instilled the importance of forgiveness. We fight, we get crazy at times, we have disagreements, and we have drama, but in the end love always wins… always. There are 17 kids total between my siblings and I. I don’t see it calming down anytime soon. I’ve learned so much from my parents about priorities. Family is everything and always first over success, over work, over material things. We give grace for important issues when someone can’t make it, or someone isn’t able to show up for a birthday, but we can because we know that our hearts are all about being together to celebrate the important moments together.
One thing never spoken but always known was the heart my parents gave us for others. It’s rare we don’t have a family gathering with friends being invited and even strangers. The term “family” extends way beyond the walls of our own homes. It’s just who we are and how we roll.
So I hope as we cruise along on this journey together that you will feel like one of the family. I invite you into my life to eat good food, share great conversation, and celebrate the important moments together.
The Ingredients Matter – Not Just the Ones We Cook With but the Ones We Live By!
Jesus called us to be salt and light in the earth. Salt brings healing, it preserves, it nurtures, it brings flavor. The light was meant to SHINE and overcome the darkness. We become salt by simply making ourselves available for others. One of the greatest ways we can do this is by using food as a tool to connect with people. It’s an amazing thing what a meal around the table can do to bring people together in the most beautiful way.
I’m honored that you have decided to follow my daily blog posts. One of my favorite verses is Zechariah 2:5, “And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.” The more I walk with Him the more amazed I am at how much He is there with me in the moments of darkness and the moments of victory. He saved me out of a life of sin and darkness and has set my feet upon a rock. For this I am forever grateful. I am unashamed of it for it is truly why I am here to share with you today my story, my life, my journey, in hopes it somehow will inspire you and give you the hope you may be in need of. Whether you are in the muck of life, the scary pit where the walls seem to be closing in around you, or you are standing on the mountaintop shouting loudly how you have conquered and overcome, I pray my words will be a healing balm to your soul, truth to your ears and encouragement for your soul.