9 photos that show my culinary journey

Aimee & Mateo with chickens

I‘ve just returned from a motivating and inspiring food blogging conference where I had the fortunate opportunity to speak on a panel and briefly share my culinary journey. It was such fun to dig up old photos and reminisce about my youth that I though I should share the images with you here.

Over the years I have alluded to my background in food, recounting stories about my bucolic back-to-the-land upbringing or hectic restaurant days; today you’ll have more of a visual narrative. These images are a really quick look at how my journey has shaped who I am today and why topics such as kids in the kitchen or urban homesteading are such a big part of this blog.

The First Homestead

Aimee's early days on the homestead

On a lake, in the beautiful and wild Yukon Territory, I grew up milking goats, homeschooling, and baking with my sister. That’s me on the left, with my unruly hair and high-tops.

It was a simple and unspoiled childhood; one that shaped me forever and instilled in me a lifelong love of nature and foraging, scratch cooking and gardening. That uncomplicated lifestyle was one that I strove to return to many years down the road when I had small children of my own.

A Floating Kitchen

Aimee on the Pacific coast

An offer to help out a chef-owner on a busy Saturday night turned out to be an inadvertent entrance into professional cooking at the age of seventeen. One summer a few years later found me as a camp cook at a remote fly-in fishing resort in British Columbia.

It is on this stunning coastal location where I learned to filet my first salmon, catch & cook Dungeness crab, and roast the perfect turkey — all in a floating kitchen.

Eating from Phuket to Paris

Aimee in Thailand

With my substantial earnings from the fishing camp, I embarked on a low-budget, high-adventure backpacking trip through South East Asia and Mediterranean Europe with my brother, Josh. Over the course of three months, I ate my way from market to market, embracing the local cuisine and falling in love with the varied family food cultures.

Obviously I’m wired for food, no matter the continent.

An (official) Culinary Education

Aimee in culinary school

I moved to Montreal at age 20, in hot pursuit of a young engineering student named Danny. Unable to land a job I liked, I decided to enroll in a snappy ten-month culinary school program. (Can you find me in the photo above?)

In the kitchens we practiced to make puff pastry and profiteroles. In the classroom we learned about cooking temperatures and kitchen safety. When it was over, an internship in the city’s best restaurant landed me a job behind the stoves.

Oui, Chef.

Aimee in restaurants

Despite years of cooking experience under my belt, I was schooled all over again in the kitchen of a popular Montreal restaurant. There, among the bins of oysters and trays of foie gras, I got an education in haute cuisine – and the egos in the industry that go along with the elite fare. (Can you guess the name of the celebrity chef in the black hat?)

Working ten-hour shifts of crazy, I cook my way up the ladder from oyster girl to chef-de-partie in three years, one finely dressed plate at a time.  They are some of the most food-centric and memorable years of my life.

During those years, Danny and I married, and I figured out that, although food was my passion, the restaurant scene was not. Still, the love of cooking for others and the satisfaction that it bestowed was something that would stay with me forever and many years later translate onto the virtual pages of this blog.

How to be a Domestic Goddess

Aimee with boysPhoto by Tim Chin

At age 26, I hung up my chef’s whites and walked away from ten years of professional cooking into the sunny kitchen of our first small house. I planted a garden, eased back into canning and bread-baking, and acquainted myself with motherhood, which suited me very well.

Admittedly though, it was a struggle to challenge myself creatively while tending to a growing family, and although I catered the occasional event, and delivered a wedding cake here and there, I sought a deeper fulfillment. I desperately wish to merge my passions of writing, cooking and mothering – but how?

cooking with kidsPhoto by Tim Chin

I began blogging my recipes, kitchen tips, and snippets of stories on Under the High Chair. Cooking with my boys – and sharing those stories and recipes with others online became an essential creative outlet. I found friendship and camaraderie in the food blogging community, as minuscule as it was back in 2006.

Unbeknownst to me, Tsh was a reader of UtHC, and over time, provided an opportunity to launch and edit Simple Bites and it became the missing link I needed between mothering and professional cooking. It helped to merge my passions into one channel, one that provided an income, rewarding feedback, and rich community. YOU!

Aimee, editor of Simple BitesPhoto by Tim Chin

Incredibly, more people than my sisters and friends read Simple Bites – I’m still floored that you all subscribe and visit the archives for recipes. Local media has been kind (heck, they brought a TV camera to my Christmas cookie swap), and we’ve had some lovely awards bestowed over the years.

When I blog, I strive to bring with me experiences of all the kitchens where I have labored and learned, laughed and, ultimately, grown up. I’m only just beginning to cover them.

A Homestead of My Own

Aimee's urban homesteadPhoto by Tim Chin

Today, as you know, Danny, the kids and I maintain a semi-urban homestead of our own. When I gather the eggs from the chicken coop or collect spinach from my garden, I am continuing to preserve the family food culture that I was raised in, and have pursued my whole life.

For the first time since I was a child in the Yukon, I truly feel at home.

Have a question about my culinary journey? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Aimée it was so lovely to see you again at FBC and hear about your culinary journey! It’s nice to see this here in your blog to share with all your readers too. Congrats on the nomination :)
    Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)’s last post: Tuesdays with Dorie: Madeleines

    • It was such an honour to be a part of FBC. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I’m still floating in a post-conference fog… =)

  2. That was so much fun to read, Aimee! So glad you shared your story. You most certainly can count on my vote at Saveur. :)
    Robin from Frugal Family Times’s last post: Our Menu Plan: April 14th to 20th

  3. My guess is: Rocco DiSpirito?!!

  4. Aimée, it was so lovely to meet you and (part of) your family in person at FBC2013. Your blog is so rich in the way you tell a story. I love the photos and recipes, but the stories are what make me come back. You have so many gifts (a gifted chef, writer, photographer, storyteller, homesteader, mother, etc). I love this post.
    Christine’s last post: Country Living – Favourite Recipes @LifeMadeDelish #LMDConnector

    • So cool to meet you too, Christine. I thank you for reading, especially since I have some issues with self-editing. My posts are always lengthy!

  5. Oh my goodness, I love this! I love those photos and I loved learning about your journey! How cool!
    Tieghan’s last post: Grilled Banana Bread Peanut Butter S’more with Vanilla Marshmallows

  6. I loved meeting your and your little one at FBC. I was so interested to learn you started as a Homesteader in the Yukon and come full circle! Enjoy the journey with your family, everyday is a gift and potential learning experience. xo
    Adell Shneer’s last post: Art to Eat Cookies inspired by Pantone Spring 2013

    • Adell, meeting you was such a highlight. I’m so glad we met over breakfast. I’m so inspired by all the strong Canadian women I met at the conference. Stay in touch!

  7. What a fun way to get to know you better and your food escapades. I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand as well and would go back in a nano-minute. Oh the markets!
    Heidi @foodiecrush’s last post: Spring Vegetable Gnocchi

    • Thanks for reading, Heidi. Oh, I flipped over the food in SE Asia. The ingredients over here are so sub-par, it’s sad. Yes, the markets are unforgettable, as is the HEAT in the food. #ouch

  8. Aimee,
    Lovely to see and read about your culinary history.
    Thanks for sharing a piece of your past with me!
    Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Veggie-Pumped Picadillo–Tax Day Meat Stretching

  9. I read your post all over again with the same interest even if I was at the FBC! I find your journey very inspiring: oooh life! I absolutely love the picture behind the title “How to be a domestic goddess” and you definitely have my vote for Saveur! Bravo encore une fois Aimée !
    christelle is flabbergasting’s last post: Faire son pain maison (sans pétrissage) : c’est trop cool, les enfants.

    • I could never have imagined my life taking this course. Remember what I told you & Janice at FBC? I only was sure of one thing. ;) I think if you are open to adventure and have faith in humanity, life is going to be an incredible journey.
      Thank you for your VOTE!!

  10. This is a lovely and fun post. So nice to see the pictures. Looks like you had fun at FBC – maybe next year?
    I voted for you as soon as I saw your blog nominated. Fingers crossed.

    • FBC WAS fun, but more than that, inspiring, encouraging, and motivating. You have to come next year!!

      Thank you kindly for your vote. It’s much appreciated.

  11. Wow, your culinary story is very interesting.
    I voted for you!! Thakns for sharing!!
    Gaby@GabHousewifeChronicles’s last post: Changing web address

  12. I’m in awe of your incredible journey! So inspiring!
    ashley – baker by nature’s last post: Tomato and Tuna Spaghetti Puttanesca

  13. Aimee,
    Congrats for making the list! I signed up and voted!! I love your reminiscent stories an pictures! I think the Brunette tones are more becoming ♥ I love your approach and I also hope to teach my daughter, now 3 years old, what it means to cook from “Scratch”, even though everytime I say the word she thinks we are going out to visit the chickens! LOL! It is so important to be in the place where we are happy & feel at home. I started my business making all Handmade Organic Bath/Body/Home Products so I could be a Work-at-Home-Mom 6 years ago! It is great to look back & see where I have come from & where I am going! Each day is a new experience as I teach my daughter how to make my Homemade creations! She is interested in helping, so I have been letting her mix while I pour etc. So much more enriching making memories picking herbs together and planting the garden:)
    Keep up the good work! LOVE LOVE LOVE your posts!!
    http://www.honeybeeholistics.com

  14. Even though I already know a lot of your story, it was so nice to read it again here. And it’s amazing that you’ve come full circle from your childhood to how you’re living today – you are an inspiration!

  15. Aimée, after all these years following your blog it was so nice to finally meet you, baby Clara and Danny. I did a recording audio of you at the conference and will listen to it again. Looking at your picture of Phuket brings back memories of my recent trip to Asia and Thailand. Hope to see you soon. Congratulations for the Saveur nomination! Open that bottle of Champagne :)

    • Helene, you were one of the first people I connected with online back when I started UtHC. I remember you were a faithful commenter. It feels perfect that we finally met last weekend. =)

  16. Fascinating story of your culinary path, Aimee, made even more fun with the photos. Great to meet you at FBC, and I loved how Danny took care of the baby while you were in the class. On my way to the airport now and will be in touch.

    • People nicknamed him the ‘manny’. ;) He is a huge support, for all aspects of my life. I’m so glad I chased him down!

      It was really great to chat at FBC and I look forward to staying in touch. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Such a wonderful look at your culinary journey! I was litterally listening in awe during your panel… it’s amazing to see how far everyone has come. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I very seldom comment, but I wanted you to know that I did vote for you. God bless.
    Correna’s last post: With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart: Easter Butter Lamb

  19. Auntiepatch says:

    You have my vote!

  20. I really enjoyed learning a little more of your history, and reading your story. It’s very inspiring and I appreciate how you were open to the opportunities that came and all the doors that opened because of that willingness.
    We did some traveling in SE Asia and there is nothing like the fresh markets. Yum.
    I love the merging of your passions, as a mom, lover of food and words, it inspires me. =)
    Breanne’s last post: In Which We went to The Ocean and Gathered Shells

    • Breanne, that means a lot, so thank you very much. I certainly didn’t have food blogging, or even urban homesteading in mind when I moved to Montreal so long ago. Being open to life’s twists and turns can definitely be rewarding. =)

      Thanks for commenting!

  21. Thanks so much for coming and sharing your story at FBC2013 – I know your panel was one of the highlights for so many attendees (and the only one I got to see in full!). I think people really connected with all of you. And THANK YOU to you and Danny for all your help behind the scenes – we are so grateful for all of you who helped out! The highlight of my weekend was coaxing Clara into walking across the foyer to me – she’s just too cute!
    Melissa@EyesBigger’s last post: What Happens When You Plan a Food Blogging Conference…

  22. It was great to finally meet you at the FBC2013 conference. Love seeing your slideshow up on your site. That 50s retro shot is hilarious.

    Hope our paths cross again soon!
    Charmian’s last post: The Margarita Chicken Compromise

  23. Aimee, I really enjoyed reading a little snapshot of your history. I have been reading Simple Bites since it started (having been a SimpleMom follower before then) and love it! I am really getting more and more passionate about healthy cooking, homesteading, and learning to cook more without recipes. All this to say, thanks for all you share on your blog and for being an inspiration!

    And you have my vote too :-)

    • Can I call you my Number 1 fan? ;) I love that you have been reading for so long. Thank you!!! For reals. I love the journey that you are taking. Thank you for the vote!

  24. This is fascinating, Aimee! Such a rich, cultured history you have. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Your blog is an absolute delight! I have enjoyed it since my first look after your mom mentioned it on The Quilt Show Forum. Stitching & eating and reading about both…ahhh, heaven. Best wishes on the Saveur site, you’ve got my vote!

  26. So fun to see! I love learning about foodie lives :)
    Hanna’s last post: Pretty, Handmade things for your Kitchen

  27. Wow, great story! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s last post: Ettitude Eco Living: Bamboo Sheet Set Giveaway

  28. great read, as always! Loved seeing the old photos… oh ya, and on another note- voted :)

  29. Love spotting you in these!! An amazing journey.
    Jamie~Simple Homeschool’s last post: My best dozen pieces of homeschooling advice

  30. How fabulous is this! Thank you so much for the peek into your culinary journey, Aimee. So glad you have you as the beautiful, talented blogger you are now!

  31. Your site has always been a favorite. I love your culinary journey – I think the most enriching experiences in life are always punctuated by food. All the best and good luck in the voting process!

  32. I love this post, Aimee!!! And congratulations on the nomination! So well deserved!!!
    naomi’s last post: No-Bake Cashew Butterscotch Pretzel Bar

  33. What an incredible journey! I’m so glad that you are able to pursue the things you love the most – family, friends, and food – at the same time! Keep up the great work!! :)
    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective’s last post: Kitchen Makeover Day 3: New Appliances

  34. What a pleasure it was to meet you and to gain your insight on your panel this weekend. I’m grateful to be able to come here now and read your story after hearing you speak on it. I’d recognize those boots anywhere!

    • Those boots! I never thought they’d get so much attention. ;) It was great to meet you too. Your enthusiasm is so contagious. I’m so glad you came!

  35. Aimee, it was a real treat to meet you this past weekend. I loved hearing about your culinary journey and finding out how similar our paths are. Congratulations on all of the accolades – they are well deserved!
    Renee’s last post: Roasted Mushroom Tart with Goat Cheese & Onion Jam

    • Renee! You are another of the conversations I wish I could pick up and continue. I loved hearing your story. Maybe you’ll blog it someday…? ;)

  36. Wow, what an amazing journey you’ve been on, I really enjoy reading about how others came to be where they are now :) looks like you had a good trip.

  37. I read this post several days ago but had to come back and leave a comment. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and all of these photos with us! Love it!
    Annalise’s last post: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

    • You are awesome to pop back in. I’m really glad you enjoyed my slice of history. More than once while I was writing it, I was like…really? who cares? But sometimes I just gotta tell that voice in my head to shove it! =)

  38. What a fantastic idea. Wouldn’t this be great for every food blogger to do? Love it. Congrats on being selected for the award. Well deserved praised that’s for sure. Lovely meeting you at FBC2013 as well. Your daughter was so good and your hubby (Dan?) seemed to have a good time as well.
    Best
    Carol

    • Carol, I would love to read the stories behind how food writers got started. It’s so interesting! I particularly loved Corey’s story of how he made Ruth Reichl a sandwich….

      It was great to meet to too. Clara and Danny did have fun!!

  39. I am SO inspired by you and your journey! What amazing photos and a beautiful story about your culinary adventure! I am so proud of you, friend!
    Amy Allen Clark’s last post: Amy’s Notebook 04.17.13

  40. Aimee this is a wonderful story of your culinary journey. My friend Sarah is also in the running for Best Blog of cooking with Kids, In Praise of Leftovers. I was thrilled to see your name among the list. Also, I’m pretty sure my husband was at that fishing spot in BC. Is it right where Alaska and Canada meet? He mentioned the floating lodge and we ate like royalty that year with salmon, halibut and rockfish. Our oldest first meat was salmon from his catch.:)

  41. I love hearing people’s stories. As a longtime Simple Bites reader, I especially appreciated hearing a fuller version of yours. Off to vote now…
    Julia’s last post: Chocolate Buckwheat Waffles with Coconut Whipped Cream

  42. I love stuff like this.. thank you so much for sharing!!
    Beth’s last post: When Your Heart is Heavy

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  44. Love your story! So adorable. Nice to meet you and definitely stalking the blog for some favorites. Cheers!
    Wendy’s last post: Apple Dandelion Green Smoothie

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