My name is Chelsey and I spend a lot of time thinking about food.
It started as the only hobby I could afford. Most of my minuscule news writer salary went to filling up my 1998 Honda Accord, which I drove to and from my first job at a television station in Dayton, Ohio. The shift started at 2 AM. But this was 2008, and I counted myself lucky to be working at all. To feed and entertain myself, I often tried to replicate my favorite restaurant dishes. I was surprised when my versions often tasted better.
A few years later, with a better job and a new husband, I moved into a small but charming apartment in the picturesque suburb of Oakwood. We chose the place for its gleaming wood floors, graceful arched doorways, and giant brick fireplace. But my favorite feature wound up being a few steps out our back door: a gourmet grocer called Dorothy Lane Market.
It had everything a budding foodie could want. Apples in a dozen varieties. Butterfly chicken breasts that proudly advertised their “free range” status. A dairy case containing such lovely-sounding words as “gruyere” and “creme fraiche.” With armfuls of ingredients and advice from the sharply-dressed staff, I grew more ambitious in the kitchen. Pork chops stuffed with roasted peppers and parmesan. Homemade soft pretzels, dunked in a baking soda bath before getting popped in a hot oven. When I brought a tray of soaring chocolate soufflés to the table during a dinner party, I realized one could easily become addicted to the “ooh’s!” and “mmm’s…” of happily-fed friends.
I was standing at the oven, in fact, when I got the phone call that launched us on a new adventure. The NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth had received my resume and wanted an interview. “Are you busy at the moment?” asked the executive producer on the other end of the phone. “Just pulling some calzones from the oven,” I answered truthfully. He relished repeating the story to my colleagues a few months later, as he introduced the new 11 AM producer/aka “Calzone Girl.”
Dallas can be a difficult adjustment if you come from a one-stop-sign town where a 90° day is considered unbearable. But one thing we couldn’t complain about (even while stuck in a 4-hour traffic jam) was the food. For a couple of Indiana farm kids who considered P.F. Chang’s the pinnacle of culinary achievement, our tastebuds were in for a delicious surprise. Brisket tacos that melted on your tongue. Real margaritas made from real limes. Avocados in everything (even ice cream)! The diverse cultures that converged in the metroplex gave us easy access to everything from bánh mì to baba ghanoush. We literally ate it up.
After a six-month stop in Nashville, we’re back in DFW—specifically, McKinney—which contains all the charm of our dear Oakwood, combined with the easy access to Dallas shopping, restaurants, and (most importantly) old friends. My culinary preferences are still evolving, now more conscious of things like sustainable growing practices, seasonal eating, and supporting local farmers. I’m more likely to consider the nutritional value of a dish (unlike my 21-year-old self who just wanted a taste of Olive Garden alfredo). But mostly I’m just a sucker for good food. I look forward to sharing my next kitchen adventures with you.