Spotlight On: Evelyn Schichner

July 26, 2023

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When was the moment that you knew you wanted to be a chef?

I can’t really say there was one defining moment. I think it is more of an evolutionary process. I’m more of a “chef instructor”. I rely on my experiences of formal training in France; following recipes and techniques I’ve learned from people all over the world; or having watched my mother-in-law, Ida, showing children how to “pinch the edges” when making kreplach. It’s a living process.

Who are your inspirational chefs and why?

That’s easy – Julia Child! I watched her on TV when she had a show in Santa Barbara, then, of course The French Chef on PBS. Later on, I attended several of her events at Boston University and was fortunate to meet her in person several times. I aspire to follow her the way she brought French cooking into the American kitchen with warmth and joy.

You have been compared to Julia Child by your students, how does that make you feel?

What can I say? To be compared to your idol is such a positive reinforcement and gives me the impetus to continue doing what I’m doing.

What is the most important thing that you teach your students about cooking?

I would say approach your time in the kitchen as something fun and creative. I usually put on some music and sing along. Before you start any endeavor, the first thing you should do is what the French call “mise en place”- measuring and assembling all ingredients. I will reiterate: the most important thing is to have fun and don’t worry if the result isn’t what you consider to be perfect.

Do you have a favorite dish to make and why?

I can’t single out one favorite dish. However, I do like working with dough. It’s amazing what you can do with four simple ingredients of flour, water, salt, and yeast. You can bake baguettes and have your whole building smell like a French boulangerie or laminate dough with butter, creating an array of French pastries fit for a Paris pâtisserie window - that’s when the creative side surfaces!