Diane LaVonne fashioned Diane's Market Kitchen by combining her passion for food and wine, her talent for teaching and creating a comfortable inviting environment, and her commitment to balancing those for a life of health and well being.
Dramatic changes in her life that left her without her children, her home and neighborhood and nothing more that the prospect of minimum wage employment at an age when most of her friends were looking forward to relaxation and retirement, Diane LaVonne was forced to redefine herself and to create a new vision for her life.
When this former wife, mother, part-time caterer, martial arts instructor and community volunteer told friends about her dream to open a beautiful “home kitchen” in the heart of urban Seattle near the Pike Place Market, a place where the community could gather to connect and learn how to prepare and enjoy food, many thought it was a pipe dream. Certainly traditional small business lenders thought so, and refused to lend needed capital.
But despite a lack of the necessary funding, and the construction surprises that came from turning a garage into a commercial kitchen – Diane kept moving forward. A straight-forward, passionate, friendly force who believes in asking for what one needs - when she couldn’t afford the high end appliances necessary, she asked manufacturers and local dealers to donate them... and they did. At Diane’s Market Kitchen, you’ll find the newest Miele equipment donated by Albert Lee Appliance as well as countertop equipment donated by Kitchenaid and Cuisinart. The final cost to build and equip this incredible display kitchen? Just $50,000.
The kitchen is an intimate, beautiful, state-of-the-art "home" kitchen where Diane shares her culinary skills and experience with her "guests". Food and menus are based on what is fresh, seasonal and local; most of the items are supplied by her vendor friends at the Pike Place Market. This unique environment was created to allow her to model what cooking, surrounded by friends, can look like at its best; lots of conversation and good food without having to choose between the two. Guests can observe, or they can tie on an apron and help prepare the meal! Diane’s vision is about balance - about how to place food in its appropriate context for a life well-lived and enjoyed.
Recent guests have included a group of Microsoft Human Resource Managers after a long day of strategy and planning; a woman who received the evening class for her and her friends as a birthday gift from her boyfriend; and a local resident who gathered family together for a Thanksgiving meal. Besides regular classes and special guest chefs, future plans include children’s classes and parties.
Diane has not forgotten how difficult her transition out of hopelessness and through challenging times was, and a large part of her vision includes support of her local community by donating classes and money to benefit children’s education and women in transition.
Offline for a while. Here is a photo from class last night. Arroz con Pollo. One of the keys to authentic is to use annatto oil to saute and chicken and rice. It tasted as great as it looks!
Tomorrow night I'm hosting a dinner based on Bourbon for Beam Suntory. Dessert will be my famous pumpkin pie with Bourbon Ice
Cream. How's that for a finish!
Pie Baking Class on Saturday.....crazy, funny and laughter filled. Here are my two efforts. An apple pie and and free standing quiche. Oh and dinner later that night with some roasted cauliflower and a glass of red wine. Heaven!
Steamed off a 20# "cinderella pumpkin" so I'd have some in my freezer. This is my lard crusted homemade no cans bourbon etc pie with homemade whipped cream. Now that's how I say "PIE" hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
So on Wednesday with 15# of flour in the kitchen and some yeast I decided to make caramel cinnamon rolls for the first time in years. Here are my before and after shots. They tasted as good as they smelled. I was able to share them with a few of my neighbors too.
This is one of my favorite side dishes for the Thanksgiving table. Very simple but beautiful and tasty. Make a simple syrup using 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar. add 3 firm ripe pears cut into bite size pieces, 12 ounces cranberries, 1/2 cup dried diced apricots and 2 oranges. Simmer until the pears are tender. That's it.....Enjoy!
Last month the folks at Tovolo donated a package of their products to each of my Pike Place Market resident students. I have been using their products for years to stock my "frozen pantry" I love the large ones for stocks, fillings, beans and rice. The smaller ones I've used for sauces, chiles, roasted peppers and my basil and pine nut mixture. Thanks so much for your generous contribution.
Update....all of the folks who join our chocolate class featuring @llillebellfarms will get a free pass to the Northwest chocolate Festival this weekend. http://www.nwchocolate.com/ Come join us for a trio of wonderful chocolate desserts.
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