Local chef Wendy Brodie encourages us to play with our food
For Wendy Brodie, cooking goes far beyond a recipe—it’s an art form. The Carmel-based chef believes that color, texture and presentation are just as important as the food itself.
Locals will have the opportunity to experience some of Brodie’s culinary masterpieces first-hand on Aug. 29, when she is the featured chef at one of the Annieglass Platemaker Dinners. The series offers participants a market-fresh feast with paired wine by renowned chefs and vintners, hosted by local artist Annie Morhauser. Each four-course meal is served on Morhauser’s award-winning, handcrafted glassware in her production studio, and benefits the Annieglass Scholarships at local high schools, as well as the California College of the Arts, Morhauser’s alma mater.
The opportunity to present her culinary creations on Annieglass at a community event is a dream come true for Brodie, who often uses Morhauser’s pieces when hosting dinner parties at home. “I just love Annie’s work,” she says. “It really speaks to me and inspires my food.”
Brodie says Morhauser’s gold-dipped collection of plates and bowls, her boat-shaped collection, and her triangular multicolored plates are regularly in rotation when she’s preparing food. “It’s like having a wonderful clothes closet full of colors that mix and match,” she explains.
In order to ensure that her food complements Morhauser’s work, Brodie intends to wait until she sees what Annieglass pieces she gets to use at the upcoming Platemaker Dinner, to plan the meal.
“I come from a family where anything you work with should give you pleasure,” Brodie says. “To me, the thrill of food is what plate it’s going to be on, what tablecloth, what flowers you’ll use … you can change up the mood. Food and plates play with each other.”
Brodie’s unique approach to cooking is the focus of a local weekly television show, called Art of Food, which is broadcast daily on Comcast cable and weekly on public television stations throughout the United States and Canada. The show presents cooking ideas from recipes to presentation for all levels of experience, incorporating plate design, presentation, table settings, centerpieces, and other entertaining ideas.
In addition to hosting the show, she also operates Art of Food Catering, appears as a guest chef throughout the country and abroad, as well as consults for home kitchen design, for business menu development, and is a personal kitchen shopper.
Though cooking has always been a hobby of Brodie’s, it wasn’t until she started working for a financial news service during the ’70s, that she realized she didn’t want to spend her life climbing the corporate ladder. And so, she enrolled at the California Culinary Academy, where she learned that her love for cooking and art could easily be combined into one fulfilling career.
“I realized that art gave me a sense of self-discovery, whereas food connected me to people,” she says. “Food is full of color, texture and taste. Plates become your palette. And food and plants are nature’s paints. So cooking is really a wonderful means of self-expression.”
Brodie’s passion for ceramics, fiber art and the abstract all come into play when she is presenting a meal. If she’s going for a more modern, contemporary look, she might use some of her Annieglass boat-shaped pieces. If there are greens and purples in Morhauser’s plates, she’ll look to purple potatoes and some organic flowers to make the colors really pop.
Brodie’s artistic side also infiltrates her food. She’s been known to experiment with edible gold and silver to give her meals extra sparkle. She’ll sometimes use nasturtium leaves as doilies under plates. And she occasionally uses hidden ingredients like coffee to add extra pizzazz to dishes.
“The saying goes, ‘we eat with our eyes first,’” Brodie explains. “If you put energy, love and care into your food, how you present it is just as important. And if you’re loving what you’re doing, that really comes out in your food. What we put into a dish can be felt by many people.”
The Annieglass Platemaker Dinner featuring Brodie will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29 at the Annieglass studio, 310 Harvest Drive, Watsonville. The event includes a reception, tour, and four-course meal. $125. Visit annieglass.com.