Barbara Wright.jpg

Barbara Wright is the chef at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Age: 59

Chef at: Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Highway M, Middleton. (The dining room is not open to the public unless they are attending a meeting, retreat or other event.)

How long have you been there: Since January.

How long have you been cooking: I have been working since I was 14 years old. I have more than 40 years of experience.

Did you go to culinary school: I am a self-taught chef.

Where have you worked in the past: Previously I owned the Dardanelles Restaurant on Monroe Street in Madison for 13 years.

Favorite foods: I love cooking fresh local vegetables. There is a Zen beauty to a basket of farmers’ market or CSA vegetables that thrills me every time.

Favorite ingredients: I use a lot of Wisconsin home grown foods in my cooking — cheeses, sausage, fresh herbs.

Favorite restaurants: When I eat out I go to La Baguette on Mineral Point Road and pretend I’m in a Parisian cafe. I love the Weary Traveler on Willy Street, too.

Best tip for home cooks: Even the best chefs started out with mistakes and bad dishes. Don’t let the difficulties of learning to cook new dishes stop you. . Even Julia Child had to practice until her beef bourguignon was a classic. Don’t assume that chefs can just walk in the kitchen and turn out great food without lots of effort in the beginning. Even after 40 years, I still burn the cookies occasionally.

Favorite cookbook: I have read all of Joan Peterson’s travel guides, her “Eat Smart” series. She does an amazing job of capturing the culinary zeitgeist of each country. Orange Schroeder from Orange Tree Imports is currently writing one on Denmark. Can’t wait! As a great go-to cookbook, Fair Share CSA Coalition’s “Asparagus to Zucchini” is a must.

Favorite recipe: Fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce.


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