A Special Spotlight on ITK's Manager - Don!
The following post was authored by Anne Blanchard. 

"I am asking all my friends who like to cook to please share this post.

Great Chefs Who Cook with Their Children

…was the title of a magazine article that appeared in 1980 featuring Martha Stewart and her daughter Alexis, Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine, Edward Giobbi and his daughter Lisa, and Marjorie Blanchard and her son, Donald, my brother. Our mom, Marjorie Blanchard, authored 15 cookbooks working from our home on Turkey Hill Circle in Westport, CT. She was part of a growing, loosely connected group of cooking pioneers in the New York/CT area who were popularizing everything associated with fine cooking, especially French cooking. Her first book, The Kitchen Scholar, co-authored with Malvina Kinard, featured an introduction by James Beard, who was already a TV cooking celebrity by then. Several years prior to the article, Martha moved in down the street from us on Turkey Hill. As she mastered all things domestic in their renovated farm house, she would stop by to chat about cooking with my mom who taught private cooking lessons in our kitchen.

Growing up in this household, my brother and I took 2 different paths. I was a willing tester/taster of anything my mom made. My brother became a willing student of cooking itself, and by the time he turned 17, he had his own catering business, plus he had mastered the art of cake decorating.

For the photo shoot and article, my brother cooked a “Sunday Dinner” consisting of crepes cannelloni, salad, a meringue basket of strawberries, homemade breadsticks, and a peach tart. (Can you imagine being invited to someone’s house today and being offered this menu?). Martha and her daughter Alexis cooked a multi-part Chinese dinner featuring something called “Strange Flavor Fish” (must have been an interesting translation from the Chinese), Pork Pearl Balls, Gold Coin Eggs, Hot and Sweet Chinese Cabbage and several other delicacies. Jacque Pepin and his daughter Claudine, created “Claudine’s French Lunch” featuring Escargot au Beurre D’Anis, Gigot Roti a L’Ail, Epinards a la Crème, and Crème Caramel au Café. Sounds delicious! And Edward Giobbi and his daughter Lisa, created an “Italian Country Dinner” with Baked Herbed Chicken en Croute, Asparagus, and White Cake with Whipped Cream (spoiler alert- this dinner is not available at the Olive Garden).

40 years later, 3 out of the four children in that article are still carrying on the legacy of their chef parent. Claudine Pepin, Lisa Giobbi, and my brother Don.

After graduating from the Salisbury School in CT he went to Johnson and Wales in RI and went on to become a chef in Newport, RI. He moved on from there to the OuterBanks where he worked at several of the beach restaurants. When fatherhood started to compete with chef’s hours, he became a wine salesman, and even opened a brick oven pizza and ice cream eatery. Like my mom who wrote and cooked about everything from vegetarian cooking to early New England recipes, he immersed himself in virtually every aspect of great food.

Life and love took him to Pittsburgh to an amazing cooking supply store “In the Kitchen”. To walk into this store is to immediately feel your spirit lift, knowing whatever cooking problem you have right now will be solved. For me, it was boiled eggs. I simply could not cook them in a way that made my family love them as much as I do. Two weeks later, with my very cool looking specialty egg cooker, my family was asking for two or three at breakfast. And…how many stores do you walk into these days that can be said to have a sense of humor? Humor pervades the whole store – and the website too. If you visit, I challenge you to leave without laughing at the aprons/magnets/kitchen signs. This place is special, unique, not a chain, and here my brother found a home for his lifetime of cooking knowledge and also his humor.

Not having a tech focus, the store took its time getting a website up and running. Fortunately, it went live just before Covid brought its own special hell to Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and great family-owned shops everywhere. Unfortunately, this year also brought for my brother the challenge of colon cancer. But this wonderful store, with its upbeat vibe, has supported Don at every twist and turn, and now, very carefully, he’ll be returning to work in the back office in October."

So friends, I have a favor to ask of you. Next time you need a garlic press, a new set of knives, or want the right tool for some new challenge, please check out the website of In the Kitchen and order it from them. If you need advice, hit the chat button, and ask for Chef Don. Like my Mom, he is always learning new things about cooking and would love to chat with you. You’ll be supporting a wonderful “local” business. And who knows, you may inspire someone in your life with a passion for cooking, just like Marjorie did.

God bless you all in these Covid times."

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