As you have read in the title I’m back at it today with another artist from our area! This artist will be bringing us a different kind of art to learn about and that is cooking. I’ve been watching cooking documentaries lately and my eyes have been opened to the art of cooking which truly is an art. This is what the artist I interviewed had to say about why she thought cooking is an art: “Cooking is whatever you are feeling at the time. Food is like a blank canvas, you can make whatever you want out of it. There are so many colors and smells to love. It’s an art form that makes you use different senses.”
The artist, and speaker of those brilliant words, I will be introducing to you today probably doesn’t even need an introduction considering she as been on national television and is a TEEN CHOPPED CHAMPION!
That’s right people. You guess it. Our artist today is none other than Tommi Rae Fowler, and her art and passion is cooking! I was so happy to finally catch up with Tommi Rae and learn a bit more about her passion and how cooking is her form of art, so without further ado let’s get into what this lovely lady had to say about her art (:
Also, I wanted to say a quick little thank you to Leslie for letting us use her kitchen, and for taking pictures for me while I interviewed Tommi Rae!
(Just like always social media/contact info will be at then end of the post)
I think the best place to start is the beginning, and apparently so does Tommi Rae. She began cooking almost as soon as she was out of the womb. The first memory Tommi Rae has from cooking is when she was 3 or 4 years old and cooking in her Nannies kitchen. Sweet little Tommi Rae being so little woke up before everybody else and wanted to make a nice breakfast for them all to eat. When her Nanny came out to ask her what she was doing Tommi Rae’s cute little self responded with the only answer one could have “I’m cooking” And that is where her passion began, however in 2011 cooking came to a stop for Tommi Rae for quite a while. During a snow/ice storm in 2011 Tommi Rae was out of school due to weather conditions and had a friends over hanging out. Of course after a while they got hungry so Ms. Fowler started to cook some french fries in the oven, and continued to watch TV. After the food was done she took the fries out of the oven, and proceeded to turn the oven off, or so she thought. After going back into the living room for a while she had a thought for some reason to go check and make sure the oven was off, but just as she thought about it the Hannah Montana theme song came on and she couldn’t miss it, so she waited a bit longer. When Tommi Rae went to check the to see if everything was cut off she walked right up to the door frame of the kitchen and saw that everything had caught fire. Long story short, the house ended up being burnt down and Tommi Rae sunk into a depression and decided she wasn’t going to cook anymore. Thanks to the lovely people at Red Cross Ms. Fowler went through some counseling to help with depression and her therapist ended up doing Pressure Point Therapy to help Tommi Rae overcome her situation and help it did! After a while she started watching Food Network again, and then for Christmas her Grandma needed help cooking so Tommi Rae got over her mental roadblock and got herself back in the kitchen and cooked all day for Christmas Dinner. After that Tommi Rae knew cooking was the art form that she loved and wanted to pursue.
When it comes to starting the art form of cooking there is a process that a cook has to go through. Of course the first thing Tommi Rae does is wash her hands. The next step in her process is to look through the fridge a choose the ingredients she wants to use. When choosing ingredients she decides what will work best together from her previous knowledge in foods and flavors, but she also likes to experiment a bit. After choosing ingredients the next thing for Tommi Rae to complete is setting up her mise en place (which by the way, is a phrase that is tattooed on her foot). Mise en place is simply getting everything prepped and set out to cook by putting it all in place to use. After that there is nothing left to do but get your cook on!
After talking to Tommi Rae about her cooking process I was very interested in some of her favorite things about cooking. The first favorite I asked her about is her favorite dish to make along with her favorite food to eat. Tommi Rae’s favorite meal to make is without a doubt Sushi! I was super surprised to hear this, but she said it’s so fun! She was sure to follow up with the fact that she absolutely sucked at rolling sushi at first. While sushi is Tommi Rae’s favorite food to make her favorite food to eat is anything spicy! She was very quick with that response, and then started eating chips and sriracha. Along with asking Tommi Rae about her favorite foods to cook and eat I was also wondering about her favorite cooking method and to my surprise she loves to grill! Placing the raw meet to the fire is the best part for her. Another interesting fact I learned about Tommi Rae’s favorites is her favorite chef. Tommi Rae giggled and said she absolutely loves the Food Network chef Ina Garten. I almost fell out of my seat when she said this because if you know anything about Tommi Rae you know that she is fun, spunky, and outgoing, so I expected her to say a chef like Guy Fiere because he is loud and outgoing as well, but Tommi Rae went with sweet little Ina Garten. She said her favorite thing about Ina is when she said “Let’s get crazy”, but she is obviously still quiet and reserved. This made me giggle (which Leslie snagged a picture of) because Tommi Rae seemed to think it was the best thing in the world.
When it comes to opportunities that Ms.Fowler has because of cooking, such as Chopped, it all started at the Anderson District 1 Career and Technology center (CTC). At the end of Freshmen year there is a day where you go and tour CTC to find out what programs they offer and meet with the instructors to see which is the best fit for you. Tommi Rae missed this day, so she had to blindly pick what program she would go into. She saw Culinary and thought “It’s cooking. How hard can it be?” She already had an interest in it, and knew it was an activity she loved, so she went for it, and on the first day of class she fell in love with everything the program had to offer.
The Career and Technology Center is actually how Tommi Rae got involved in Teen Chopped. (You can find both of Tommi Rae’s episodes on Netflix at the moment!!!) One day at CTC there was a sign up sheet for a chance to be a part of the Food Network show Chopped, but this time they were doing competition for Teens. Tommi Rae didn’t ever think she would have been chosen for this, but she decided to put her name down on the list anyway because what was the harm. She ended up sending in an application, and then forgot all about it. All of a sudden one night while she was sitting on the couch watching none other than the Food Network she got a call from a New York number. For us people in South Carolina that’s a little strange, although Tommi Rae was questioning who could be calling her from New York her curiosity got the best of her and she picked up the phone. To her surprise it was a nice women calling from Food Network. The call was to tell Tommi Rae she had been chosen to be interviewed for a chance to be a part of the Teen Chopped competition. In the days following the phone call Tommi Rae went on to do a Skype interview and went through endless amounts of emailing back and forth before her and her father took the trip of a lifetime to New York to be a part of the Teen Chopped Competition.When it came time for the competition Tommi Rae was so nervous, and she didn’t think she was prepared, or could win. She was so nervous in fact that she actually had to go into the bathroom look herself in the mirror and have a very serious pep talk. Of course we were all back here in South Carolina eagerly awaiting her episode to air, and we couldn’t have been more happy when she won the first competition, but when she won the Grand Finale it was game over! Our little upstate community could’t have been more proud of this small town southern girl winning it big doing something she loves to do!
Since Tommi Rae has already accomplished so much I was excited to ask her what else she hoped to do with her love for the art of cooking. Did she want to make this a career or just keep it as a hobby? When I asked this question my girl quickly responded to me by saying “I will make this my career.” This was by far one of my favorite parts of the interview because it showed how driven Tommi Rae was to take her art form and make it her life by becoming a personal chef.
I wanted to send a huge thank you to Tommi Rae for allowing me to interview her about her art and passion of cooking! Thank you all for taking the time to read a little bit of what she had to say about cooking and the art of it all. Make sure to keep checking back to find more artists in our area.
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Business Email- Trfowler9813@outlook.com