Heather Vaughan is a relative newcomer to the personal chef business in Houston, but she is quickly making a name for herself with her restaurant-quality meals that can be eaten in the privacy of your own home. We sat down with her to discuss cooking, restaurants, and why she's not really into killing her own rattlesnakes.
Eating Our Words: Tell us what got you into cooking.
Heather Vaughan: My mother was a terrible cook, so a lot of it was out of necessity. We ate at Luby's literally every night. I would spend summers with my grandmother, who had a big garden, and we would grow the food and then eat mostly out of that. We would go into town once or twice a week to pick up some accompaniments and then we would combine it with the fresh garden food to make meals.
My father was a great cook, and he would take me to Vietnamese restaurants before that was even done. He didn't teach me to cook directly, but he exposed me to different cuisines that were outside of the mainstream.
EOW: So how long have you been cooking?
HV: I have been cooking my entire life. I have done a few classes here and there, but I am mostly self-taught. I have spent 20 years reading cookbooks, going to fine-dining establishments and researching exotic cuisine. Then I go to my kitchen and experiment.
EOW: So are you a recipe person, then?
HV: When I want to create a new dish, I will scour thousands of recipes, narrow them down to the top nine or so, and then create my own from that.
EOW: What are your favorite dishes to prepare?
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HV: I like to make traditional hearty and rustic meals, like pasta Bolognese or bouillabaisse. It takes a lot of time and care and practice to get them perfect, but the results are well worth it.
EOW: Is there anything you refuse to make?
HV: I will make just about anything you want to eat. I can do vegetarian, gluten-free, carb-free, whatever. I'm not a baker, though. I will incorporate the highest qualities breads and desserts into the meal, but I am not baking them from scratch. And I don't want to have to kill my own rattlesnake.
Check back soon as Vaughan discusses what she likes to eat on her day off as well as what her current favorite meal.