Caitlin Dewey
Washington, DC


By day, I'm a culture reporter at a national newspaper. But by night, I'm an obsessive home cook: the kind who reads entire books on things like salt, has memorized the Food Network's nightly schedule, and throws elaborate dinner parties whenever able.

I learned to cook traditional Sicilian food from my mother and great-aunts, using recipes and techniques that -- in many cases! -- have been used by the ladies in my family for many generations. For me, rolling out fresh pasta on Sundays or having people over for a big vat of homemade sauce is one of the few things I can do to feel like I'm carrying on my family's traditions. I really pride myself on using traditional recipes and fresh ingredients (from my balcony garden, if possible!) and making everything from scratch: spaghetti, meatballs, gelato, ricotta cheese, Italian dressing ... you name it.

My Aunt Jane, who is over 80 now, always said cooking was a 'labor of love' -- which is perhaps sort of corny, but definitely something I buy into. My boyfriend and I host pasta dinners for friends every Sunday; I make the dinner, he picks the wine. (He spent a semester in college working at a vineyard in Italy, so he makes a pretty good sommelier.)

I have, admittedly, never cooked professionally. I am, however, certified in food safety and sanitation by the New York City Health Department, I have worked in the food industry. and I've taken a number of classes on Italian cooking and culture.

Also, or what it's worth, my dinner guests always leave rave reviews. ;)