I first fell for cooking in the sixth grade. I was making applesauce in my home economics class and the smell of apples cooking with butter and cinnamon put me in a food trance that I am still under. Then I began catering at age 14 with a friend. At 16 for three years I worked at an extraordinary cheese shop in my hometown. This expanded my food savvy as well as my pants size.
Once in college, majoring in foodservice, I learned mostly by reading used issues of Gourmet magazines instead whenever I could. At 26, I worked for food writer, Steven Raichlen. I began testing recipes with him while cooking at a vibrant Jamaica Plain cafe. Then I was accepted to and engaged in a one-year apprenticeship in Paris at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine.
After a few more years in the biz, I became a serial restaurant opener/chef. I opened four restaurants in 15 years and all succeeded.
Now, I do what I love most - cooking for people and families on a smaller scale as well as teaching, especially kids.
The restaurants I have founded, are, in order of inception:
1) The DeLux (Boston's South end)
2) Pho Republique (Central Square, Cambridge)
3) Veggie Planet (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
4) Haley House Bakery Cafe (Roxbury).
The first is still thriving after 27 years, the second burned down after one year, the third had a very successful 10-year run but closed due to rent issues. Haley House, now in its 13th year, is a bustling non-profit café that continues to hire those facing job barriers in Roxbury, Massachusetts. It opened in 2005.
I also founded and ran Take Back the Kitchen (TBK) at Haley House, a program teaching over 300 teens a year, that helps to level the playing field in health disparities.
I have penned three cookbooks. The last is entitled Wild Flavors written in 2011 about Eva Sommaripa and her explosive gorgeous herb farm. It was nominated for an IACP award (political/food). It is written by the season and is an inspiring herb by herb guide for foodies and gardeners. It was published by Chelsea Green and it showcases my cool photographs!
My first book, Vegetarian Planet has sold a quarter million copies and was nominated for a James Beard award. My second book, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet won both an IACP award and the International Gourmand Award. I look like a wealthy suburbanite on the cover.
Didi Emmons is the author of three books:
Wild Flavors; One Chefs Transformative Year at Eva’s Farm (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011), Nominated for the IACP award in the “Food Matters” category.
Author of Entertaining for a Veggie Planet (Houghton Mifflin Publishing 2004). Winner of the IACP award in the “Healthy and Special Diet” Category.
Author of Vegetarian Planet, (Harvard Common Press 1998), James Beard Award finalist, sold over 220,000 copies.