Pop-Up Chef

Charlie Gray

SAN FRANCISCO

About Charlie Gray

I started cooking when I was about eight years old. I used to wake up earlier than everyone else in my house. One morning, I was really hungry and couldn't wait for my mom to get up and make me breakfast. I went to her cookbook shelf and pulled out a copy of the Joy of Cooking. I had watched my mother make pancakes before and I figured it couldn't be too hard. I somehow was able to locate all of the ingredients and began assembling the batter. I think my mom eventually heard all of the commotion and came downstairs to find me wrist deep in mixing bowls. After her initial shock at seeing her eight year old son making pancake batter from scratch, she put on her apron and helped me finish making the recipe. After that first escapade, my mom started teaching me about food and how to cook. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are watching Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich cooking shows and then trying to emulate them in the kitchen. In my last year of high school, seniors were given the month of May off from classes to pursue any sort of month-long project they wished to pursue. I used that month to write a French Provençal cookbook with two of my classmates. We spent days shopping for ingredients and testing recipes in our kitchens. We made Fougasse bread, Beef Daube, Bouillabaisse, Lavender & Honey Ice Cream, and more. I considered going to culinary school and spent some time working in restaurants in college, but I learned pretty quickly that cooking in a professional kitchen is quite different and, for me, just not as enjoyable as cooking for people in your home. I have tried cooking and baking many different types of dishes from various cuisines, but my favorite dishes tend to be from rustic Italian and French Provençal cuisines. However, I’m always looking to expand my cooking horizons. I make a lot of fresh egg pasta, pizza dough, hearty bean and vegetables soups or stews.