Those who can do. Those who can’t teach. And then you meet a woman like Marni Wasserman who can do it all.
This holistic chef and nutritionist whips up Pinterest worthy meals while helping neophyte Toronto cooks make friends with their kitchens. Her courses are varied and educational, from Gourmet and Gluten Free to Good Mood Foods.
This fast-talking ball of energy put her spatula down just long enough to let us in on a few secrets, like the appliances that will make our lives easier and what she cooks on her busiest of days.
People like to say that they don’t play favorites, but do you have a favorite course to teach?
A lot of my cultural ones: Asian, Indian and Italian. And, my fit and fab one. It’s health focused and we’re able to delve into the nutrition of our food.
Did you ever have a Twinkie stage of your life or have you always been a health nut?
I’ve always been known as a health nut. That evolved over the years as trends started to change. My definition of health in high school was a cup of low fat yogurt. It has evolved to a whole new level! I’ve always been relatively healthy – I’ve been interested in the body, and I’ve been interested in food. It’s just grown over the years.
How did an interest in food involve to becoming a natural food chef?
I always loved food and loved to eat. Cooking came over time. I watched my mom cook and had some friends along the way that inspired me to be in the kitchen more. As my love for nutrition started to develop, it made me want to learn how to prepare natural foods. I consider myself more of a teaching chef as opposed to a “chef” chef. I’m more technical. I love putting things together and trying different combinations as opposed to focusing on knife skills and that sort of stuff. I love being in the kitchen but I more love teaching in the kitchen.
But did you ever have a kitchen fail? C’mon, we won’t tell anyone!
I guess a few. There were a couple of things in the baking department that didn’t turn out. I definitely don’t consider myself a pastry chef. I keep things more on the approachable and easy side. I try to make my classes the same way.
That will definitely help to attract beginners. Do you notice anyone who looks nervous in your kitchen?
People warn us! They are so worried that they have to have some kind of baseline – some kind of skill. We always encourage them that they don’t. We get people from all walks of life! The focus of my classes is not about technique. It’s about the ingredients and the nutritional aspect of the food and the recipes as opposed to mixing things at the right time. There are a lot of cooking schools that focus on the latter, and that’s why I’m trying to offer something different that is all about the ingredients.
When you are starting from scratch as a brand new cook, what is the very first thing you teach?
All of my classes vary in terms of what recipe we’re preparing. The group setting helps people to meet others who are in the same boat as them, so hopefully they find a little bit of community. I first teach them how to read a recipe and go through it!
Step one: read the recipe through. Step two: invest in kitchen tools. Which ones do you feel are the essentials?
A blender, a food processor and a couple of good knives that you can handle. The first two especially help with simplicity, convenience and efficiency.
After being entrenched in the food world, are you still able to cook for yourself at the end of the day?
It depends on the night, but yes. Especially on the weekends, when I have time to myself and can get inspired. Usually at this point I am winging certain things. I don’t know what’s going to come up!
Surprise! It’s an awesome meal. Let us know one of your favorite go-tos.
One of my go-to meals is a grain bowl, like quinoa, steamed greens, some sort of bean or tempeh, tahini and sweet potato. It doesn’t take that long to put together. Quinoa is especially easy as a little bit makes a lot. It also takes only 15 minutes, while brown rice takes 45. It's great on the spot! It’s fairly new to the mainstream but it’s an ancient grain from South America. It's been used in cultures all around the world but is now becoming very trendy and popular.
Fill in the blank: your last meal on earth would be…
Something with sweet potato, something with avocado and something with dark chocolate.
Yes, yes and yes. Besides Marni’s cooking classes, she’s available for holiday party bookings, and she has eBooks available online. With healthy eating it is one thing to talk the talk, but at some point we have to start walking the walk.