Brenda Steele is a private chef & recipe writer, who specializes in menu development. She takes great pleasure in the opportunity to create vibrant, delicious & nourishing meals, using high quality local and seasonal ingredients. She particularly enjoys bringing the traditional food practices of pickling, cheese making, salt curing, fermenting and preserving into her culinary work, along with foraging wild, edible flora and fauna to add special touches to her meals. The many hours, days and sometimes weeks it takes to craft the flavors behind a meal, appeals to her as much as the final meal itself. The idea that an evening’s dish might be enhanced by a trailside wild fennel blossom picked that afternoon. Or, that a single sliver of citrus peel cured for months, grows daily, and mysteriously develops into a wonderfully unexpected flavor, brings about a profound sense of joy and satisfaction.
Although a native Californian with a deep love for the Golden State, Brenda currently divides her time between the high desert mesa of Taos, New Mexico and the windy city of Chicago, IL. She began working in the restaurant industry at the tender age of 14, and has actively worked within the field ever since. For 10 years she worked as a private chef in the professional yachting industry, traveling throughout the globe. Having been profoundly influence by the foods and cultures she has explored over the years, her nomadic-chef lifestyle has played a pivotal role in developing her eclectic and adventurous food aesthetic, as well as her bold and colorful palette.
Her love of foraging wild, edible flora and fauna, as well as working directly with local farmers and artisans, can be credited to her last 12 years living in the abundantly beautiful, wild natural environment of Taos, New Mexico. There she learned to spend time in the soil where the food she works with grows. She began working directly with the farmers who provide her with ingredients. She discovered that to walk, talk and spend time with farmers on their land, is to understand their relationship with it. This connection and understanding is paramount to her style of cooking. Discovering what the land tells us it wants to grow has helped to create a depth to the way she works with food, and has helped her to understand how to produce and craft the ideal flavors from it.
For the past 5 years, Brenda has continued personal freelance chef work, as well as menu consulting and recipe development for clients in her home town as well as in California and New York. She has recently developed a new blog to showcase recipes, and to hone her skills for future forays into the world of cookbook writing.
When she is not developing menus, writing recipes, or hosting private client dinners, she enjoys rambling alone in the woods for a cache of wild boletes and thimbleberries. Or, soaking in the hot springs amongst the big horn sheep, under the stars of the wide open skies of New Mexico.