Well, I really should start at the beginning of the story, which was about 20 years ago. I forget exactly how I was introduced to Chef June Pagan, but it was through a mutual friend. June ended up cooking at my house several times (20 years ago) and what I liked best about her was her quest to use only the freshest and healthiest ingredients. She calls it “clean cooking.”
You can check out her website here, www.junepagan.com, and what you’ll see is her personal quest to optimize flavor, health value and cost for those people she personally cooks for.
June and I lost touch with each other (as we were busy having families, etc.) and we somehow reconnected a few years ago. I invited her to our offices, as she had developed some new products and wanted my feedback.
In preparation for her visit, I told my team that she was the personal chef to Hollywood celebrities like Sally Field, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, THAT Elizabeth Taylor (RIP).
Actually, June revels (in a very low-key way) about how Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite was the “Fried Chicken” that she created for Ms. Taylor when she needed to lose weight before a movie shoot. (June loves challenges.)
(I have to admit that part of the reason I wanted June to prepare recipes for us was because I thought it would sound amazing to say that she cooked for all those hip and cool celebrities…and my family!)
June and I continue to exchange emails, visit every once in a while, and at the holidays she often sends me samples of her gluten-free, sugar-free holiday goodies. And she subscribes to my blog.
So earlier this week, after she read my blog post on Finger Limes, she wrote to me:
Mmmmm, sounds intriguing, many possibilities.
Where can I find them? I'd love to play around with some.
Hope your holidays are warm and cozy,
I wrote back to her that in her area, she should probably go to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
She then shared her newest passion, the Urban Survival Kitchen, a program that is in the early stages of development and hopefully, will be incorporated into the CASAA program (Culinary Arts and Sustainable Agriculture Academy) at Venice High School here in So Cal. It's designed to help teens learn how to access and cook inexpensive but healthy and tasty meals for themselves and their families.
Isn’t that a great idea? Teach teens how to cook healthier meals! I love it!
And now, back to Diane Keaton. Since June used to cook for Diane, she planned to meet up with her at the local bookstore on that particular evening and invited me to tag along. She was going to ask Diane about supporting her new project, The Urban Survival Kitchen.
Unfortunately, I already had other plans for the evening, but it’s always good to know that whether I want to learn how to make healthier recipes (be sure to check out her website) or I want to be introduced to a celebrity, I can always call June.
Don’t I have some interesting friends?