Kitchen Careers: Aviva Goldfarb, Menu Planner

Kitchen Careers is a regular feature that goes behind-the-scenes with chefs, bloggers, critics and others in the food industry to get the inside scoop on what its like to cook, or eat, for a living.

Aviva GoldfarbAviva Goldfarb helps busy parents let go of all the stress at 6:00 and bring joy back to the dinner table. She is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble®, an online weekly menu planning system and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), and is author of the new cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). She is a weekly contributor to the Kitchen Explorers blog on PBS Parents.

Who is your culinary icon?

I admire so many cooks, chefs and food writers, but my favorite is Mollie Katzen. I learned to cook using her recipes. Her cookbooks are so engaging and unintimidating, her recipes inspire creativity and experimentation, and I have never had a bad recipe from any of her books. Plus, I met her last year and she’s delightful.

Aviva GoldfarbWhy do you love to cook?

I love to make nourishing food that tastes great without tons of effort. I also find that when I’m cooking I engage my creative side of my brain, and I don’t think about or worry about anything but what I’m doing, so I guess I get into my “flow”. And I love feeding my family.

What is the best part about being a food blogger?

I love so many aspects about my job, from recipe development, to writing about food, to connecting with really amazing people who love food as much as I do, and learning about new foods and trends. But I think my favorite part is knowing that families all over the country are sitting down together to enjoy a healthy recipe that I shared with them.

Who would you want to battle on Iron Chef?

Absolutely no one! I am not a competitive cook and wouldn’t want cooking, which is so relaxing for me, to turn into a stressful experience. I do enjoy watching it, though, and I’m addicted to Next Food Network Star—I enjoy watching it with my whole family.

What was your first published recipe?

I think it was actually in Bon Appetit in 2000, and it was a recipe I had created with my friend, Lisa Flaxman, from our first cookbook, “Peanut Butter Stew and Couscous, Too!”

Baby Back Ribs

Mouth-watering baby back ribs from Aviva

What is your favorite food city?

I moved to Santa Barbara, California when I was 11, and my family still lives there. It’s where I learned to love fresh avocados, pistachios, guavas, mulberries, peaches, tangerines, and so many other delights that we could pick in our backyard or pick up at the bustling farmer’s market. I also think Santa Barbara has some of the best sushi and breakfast joints (the blueberry wheat germ pancakes at Esau’s are my favorite) in the country, and the authentic Mexican food is cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, my mom and sister are awesome cooks, and I get to eat their food when we go there every spring.

What three PBS personalities would you invite to dinner (animated, muppet, or living)?

If I could go to their house for dinner, I’d like to eat with Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and Jose Andres. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat several times with new PBS cooking star, Pati Jinich (of Pati’s Mexican Table), and I could actually muster up the courage to have her over for dinner since we’re friends. (I get nervous cooking for guests.)

What meal/snack is your guilty pleasure?

I have a crazy thing for marshmallows, but not just any marshmallows, I like them stale so they are chewy. I also love key lime pie with whipped cream and a graham cracker crust.

Berry Sweetza Pizza

Aviva created a July 4th themed recipe for Kitchen Explorers.

What is your favorite under-appreciated kitchen tool?

I think tongs are just an awesome cooking tool and I wish I discovered the joys of using them years before I actually did. They’re so versatile. And I can’t live without a good pair of Kitchen Scissors.

In one tweet (140 characters or less)- what is your culinary style?

Healthy, seasonal, family-friendly meals that pack the most flavor for the least amount of effort.

When outside the kitchen, how do you spend your time?

I spend way too much time at my computer managing my business and keeping up with friends and colleagues online (my kids make fun of me because I’m so hooked on Twitter). I also hike in the woods with my dogs every day, love walking, going out to for coffee or a bite with friends, and I read a lot of books, mostly fiction. My favorite part of the day is disconnecting from electronics and connecting with my family around the dinner table.

Carmelized Onions and Portobello Pizza

This carmelized onions and portobello pizza from Aviva will satisfy your hunger.

What advice do you have for amateur cooks?

Find some recipes or cooks that you love and trust. Put your own spin on their recipes and make sure and take notes so you remember what you did for next time. Share recipes with family and friends. Go to the farmer’s market and experiment with fruits and vegetables that are in season. Bring your kids into the kitchen with you so they build the skills to be able to prepare food for themselves throughout their lives.

Is there a person in the food industry or a type of “Kitchen Careers” that you would like to know more about? Add your suggestions in the comment section!