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Autumn Maddox

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FINALIST PROFILE

AUTUMN MADDOX

Age: 27

Occupation: Line cook

Birthplace: Custer, Wash.

Hometown: Seattle, Wash.

So the condensed story of Autumn begins...

I was born in Bellingham, Washington to proud parents, Sharmon and Butch Maddox. I grew up in a little town north of Bellingham called Custer. Custer proudly boasts about 300 residents, a little store called Custer Country Store, Tony's Tavern and a Harley Davidson repair shop. I lived on Creasey Road in a little rambler that sat on 10 acres inhabited by horses, cows, chickens, dogs, cats, and our family. On these 10 acres we had a very extensive garden in which we grew everything from corn, onion, chillies, tomatoes, strawberries, beans, carrots, and my personal favorite, green peas. I can't even begin to tell you the hours I spent weeding that garden as punishment for fighting with my sister!! On the back of the property we had some nice woods in which, in the summer, my dad, mom, Shannon (Sister), Floyd (brother) and I would go and chop wood to heat the house for the winter. After school, the neighbor kids and I would all run home and spend countless hours in those woods pretending we were either in the army, Indians, or anything else we could think of.

Our neighbors, the Lambs, would raise pigs and we would buy one each year to eat and they in turn would buy our cows when the time came. I remember one year we had a little baby cow and I watched him grow. One of our horses, Snips, thought that he was her baby and would look after him, follow him around, and pretty much just take care of him. My Dad named him Rib-steak!! When the time came for him to be put down (eaten) I was so upset, I must have cried for days. My dad had to sit me down and explain to me that even though I loved him, he had a purpose and we had to stick to that. My childhood was very happy in that small town where everyone knows everyone else. Needless to say, there wasn't any trouble that I could get into because my dad would hear about my every move!!

When I hit the age of 6, my parents got divorced and my mom moved my sister and I to Carlsbad, California for a year. That was quite a change for me, a swimming pool, the beach and the sun. I really enjoyed it there. During our stay, my mom met a man named Ivan and fell in love. Ivan was from Holland, and my mom moved overseas to be with him. My sister and I moved back to Custer to live with my dad and brother. The next summer we all went and spent three months in Holland and toured Germany, Belgium, and France. That was my first taste of Europe and I was hooked. To this day, I can still remember this avocado dish that we had for lunch in Paris. It was just half of an avocado, perfectly ripe, filled with albacore tuna salad and it was delicious!! My brother refused to eat those "green slimy things" so I got to eat his as well!!

After Europe, we flew back home where we would spend mostly sunny days out in the San Juan Islands on our boat to visit my Grandparents out on Friday Harbor. They were commercial fishermen who dealt mostly in Dungeness Crab, Shrimp, Cod, Salmon, and Rock Fish. I remember pulling up to their boat, hopping in and going into the galley where my grandma, Doris, was shucking crab. I would sit there and eat while she shucked never realizing until my professional days began, just not only how much work it was for her, but how much money I was just sitting there eating (very happily I might add)!!! But she always let me eat as much as I wanted and never said a word... I miss those days.

I could go on and on but I am sure you are very busy so I will wrap it up with your question on how I decided to get into this crazy career called cooking.

Growing up, I had access to the bounty of the sea, fresh organic produce, local raised meat, poultry and eggs, and a lot of fresh air. I have been drawn to good food ever since I popped out of my mom back in November 1977. Cooking comes naturally to me, whether it be the cookies I would bake for my dad when he worked the graveyard shift at the aluminum plant, to elaborate wine dinners for guests and friends. I love the look on people's faces of contentment, surprise and delight. I love dealing with the farmers, the ranchers or the novice baker just looking for some good advice. I feel truly lucky that I realized my calling right off the bat instead of halfway through the game. So for me, there has been no other option than the cooking option!