The Proust Culinary Questionnaire

Kathryn Joel, Get Cooking Edmonton

In the late nineteenth century, French novelist Marcel Proust participated in an exercise which could be thought of as the Facebook of its era—he answered a questionnaire about himself in a friend’s Confession Album.

Proust’s answers have been published, in one form or another, for more than a century. Many have used the questionnaire for their own devices, the most notable being Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire featuring celebrities. The Tomato now gives it a culinary twist.

After raising two children and a career in banking Kathryn Joel decided to follow her first love—cooking. She enrolled in Leiths School in London, did a work experience gig at Billingsgate Fish and started a food manufacturing business. Then her personal life brought her to Edmonton. She was determined to stay in food. After starting with cooking classes in her home, she built the Get Cooking studio in a space on the main floor of the MacEwan student residences.

Her aim is to send people home feeling empowered to cook. Joel loves to teach, and some of the classes are also taught by chefs just back from a stage or traveling and between jobs.

Then there is Food Fight, a culinary adventure with her friend Mike Hudema, a lively experience for guests and chef competitors alike. There’s always something interesting going on at Get Cooking.

Kathryn Joel

Kathryn Joel
Illustration by Rasmussen

Hometown?
Melbourne, Australia.

Years cooking?
Since 2006.

Where would you like to live?
Bangkok.

Your favourite food and drink?
A perfect piece of Brie de Meaux, and a glass of red Burgundy.

What would you be doing if you weren’t cooking?
Writing novels.

What do you most appreciate in your friends?
Kindness.

Your favourite qualities in a dish?
Assertive flavours.

A cook?
High energy.

A wine?
Subtlety.

Who would be at your dream dinner table (dead or alive)?
My two kids, (British chef ) Mark Hix, Charlotte Bronte, Alice Waters.

Who would cook?
Mark Hix.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome, brilliant.

Current culinary obsession/exploration?
Fermentation.

Meaningful/crazy cooking experience?
When I was 13 I decided to make my Dad a ballotine of duck. We were living in Ottawa at the time. I found the recipe in a book—it was a huge amount of fun.

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?
I went to a cooking class taught by Mark Hix. He cooked traditional English dishes made from things he had foraged and he made a stargazy pie.

Mentors?
MoJo JoJo founder Johwanna Allyne, CJ Jackson (Billingsgate Fish Market, London) and my kids. I learn from them all the time.

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/afterwork food?
I am a cheesehound—love a good piece of cheese with some fruit. Dim sum.

Philosophy?
I’m all about food being accessible and fun.

What’s next?
Christmas menus and looking at venturing into catering.

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