Chefs with hearts whisking up a better World

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Elise Feiner

Author of "Cooking with Love"

"You are truly blessed to have found your true and inspired passion" and with those words, a business, "We Are Cooking With Love" was born. I guess in my life, I have tried many things, always coming back to the same thing, my love of cooking and nurturing others. Although I have no formal "culinary" training, I think that 40 + years of on-the-job training qualify me as a "Master Chef", at least in my world it does. I was born in Brooklyn, New York in a large and loving Italian family. I learned how to cook before I was 12. My father always said, "It doesn't matter, what you cook, how it looks, what it tastes like, as long as you cook it with love, it will be delicious." It was the credo we lived by: all holidays, celebrations, even funerals revolved around food. At 13, I could prepare a dinner for thirty people like it was nothing. In those days, you became a teacher or a nurse. We were on the fringe of women's lib, and I wasn't so sure I wanted to be liberated. I really wanted to go to Temple University and study medicine but my father was still a little old school. We used to joke and say that his philosophy was "you leave this house in a wedding gown or a coffin." Fortunately, my mother was a little more progressive, graduating from Brooklyn College in 1932. So, I went from Franklin K. Lane H.S. to Roosevelt Hospital School of Nursing in Manhattan, and then worked at Doctor's Hospital in Staten Island as a CICU nurse. I then went back to City College and got a B.S. degree in Chemistry and Physics. But, medicine was still in my heart, and I got the opportunity to go to Medical School in the Philippines where I met my husband Marc. Still fighting that, "do I want a career, or do I want to stay home?" thing, I decided the "liberated route" was not what I was looking for. My family went a little crazy when I told them I was leaving medical school to stay home and raise a family.

We relocated to Utica, New York and Marc became an Obstetrician/ Gynecologist in a thriving practice. We had four children, Jeffrey, now 27 and a Physician in his residency in Plastic Surgery at Johns Hopkins, Steven, now 24, a recent graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in Business and Marketing, now a law student at Thomas Cooley College of Law, David, now 22, a sophomore at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine, and Lauren, now 21, a senior at Cornell University, majoring in Hotel Administration. I stayed home, but was always looking to do something. I opened a balloon decorating business, and from there I became involved in invitations, and gift baskets. As the business expanded, I added advertising specialties, corporate gifts and event planning. I was dealing with helium, floating balloons, building centerpieces, and using my degree in chemistry and physics after all, or so I told myself. As much as I loved what I was doing, there was still something missing. I ended up working longer hours than if I had become a physician. Where I really wanted to be, was back in the kitchen, cooking and taking care of my kids.

So where did this get me? I ended up back in the kitchen eating... after all; you can't trust a skinny cook! (just kidding) However, what it really got me was gastric bypass surgery to lose all those pounds. I started a support group for bariatric patients, and made several friends who are near and dear to me. After our groups, we would go to dinner (or should I say, share a dinner among three of us) and contemplate the future. Let's go into business together, we're all bright, talented, and we want something more. My nephew wanted me to film myself making tomato sauce, and so I started a little family cookbook. I then expanded it as a fund-raiser for my son to raise money for Operation Smile (children who can't afford Plastic Surgery). It seemed to just grow and grow. We were in Orlando, Florida, at our time share in Cypress Harbour, when I suggested doing a Cypress Harbour Cookbook to help raise funds for Children's Miracle Network. When I told my friends what had happened, Suzanne said to me "You are truly blessed to have found your true and inspired passion," and so I did. I was back in the kitchen again (using chemistry to develop new recipes!) The rest is history. I approached my friends to join me on this adventure, and here we are. However, once again, I am out of the house, promoting the book, doing book signings, cooking demos, and motivational speaking. I am also a member of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals and a graduate of the Cookbook University.) Alas, I still love to eat and cook. Now I just eat less, but it has to taste great. I am still cooking constantly, sending care packages to the kids, having parties, and sharing recipes. However, I'm sure not a Skinny Minnie, so you can trust me as a cook


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