Today we’re chatting with Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, an inspiring writer, chef and blogger. The mother of two is an accomplished blogger, writing and maintaining two fabulous blogs. Not to mention that Aimée herself is an absolute sweetheart. Her personal site, Under the High Chair exudes charm. She shares tidbits of her life in Quebec as well as wonderful recipes in that space. Aimée’s more recent venture, Simple Bites is the perfect place to head when learning how to cook and cook with kids. Between Aimée’s experience as a personal chef, recent foray into farming (they have backyard chickens!) and how she looks at food, Simple Bites is a gem for learning and thinking critically about food and cooking. We are regularly inspired upon heading over there.
What is your first kitchen memory?
I’m not sure if this is applicable because, rather than in the kitchen, it takes place around the wood stove in our living room when I was about three or four. But it just may have been the first dish I ever cooked.
I remember roasting pea-sized new potatoes in a cast iron skillet on the back of our wood stove. I was ravenous, they took forever to cook, and I burned my fingers on their crispy young skins in my impatience. I probably still had dirt under my fingernails from the garden, but I ate them with my fingers anyway. They tasted like earth. And butter and salt. Perfection.
What is your favourite part about being in the kitchen with your kids?
I love to round out the corners of cooking to show that food can be an adventure, an experience, a journey or collaboration.
By gathering ingredients together (we’ve recently forayed into backyard chickens!), touching the food, talking about it, and watching it take shape under our hands, my boys are learning to appreciate whole foods and the enjoyment of scratch cooking.
I’ve long sung the praises of having kids in the kitchen and believe that the effects of this nurturing one-on-one time are life-long. And I know that every moment is a teaching one. That opportunity is invaluable.
What is the one thing you hope they never lose about their relationship or experience with food?
My husband and I want our children to grow up to be healthy eaters, aware of how food is produced and the way their food choices affect the planet. I hope that we’re raising them to connect the dots between healthy, whole food and happiness.
What is the greatest thing you learned attending culinary school? Any advice to aspiring chefs?
I entered culinary school with a few years of professional cooking already under my belt with the goal of acquiring a diploma (and perhaps a raise upon graduation). I came away with some solid techniques and improved knife skills, but it was the life skills learned that I value the most from the experience.
It sounds so cheesy, but I would encourage culinary students to aim high, dream big. Apply for that difficult internship at a top restaurant, compete in a culinary competition, and do whatever you can to show you’re a keener.
What is the one ingredient you wish you had tried sooner?
This spring I collected ramps from my back forest and cooked them up for the first time. Being a lover of leeks and garlic, I hit it off pretty well with the ramps. I’m still dreaming about the omelet we enjoyed – made with our farm fresh eggs, ramps and Emmental cheese.
What ingredient is never missing from your pantry or fridge?
Maple syrup. It’s currently in both pantry and fridge. Maple syrup more than an ingredient around here – it’s a preoccupation. A season. We go sugaring off every spring, the good old-fashioned way with a sled, a tap, a bucket and a wood stove in the woods.
What was the last thing you ate?
A roasted strawberry sundae! My latest obsession…
What was the first food blog you ever read?
My Madeleine! I stumbled across Molly’s blog back in the fall of 2005. I was drawn in at once and her stories of The Chef kept me entertained when I was up at all hours of the night nursing my newborn.
It was thrilling to hear Molly speak about her new book at BlogHer Food in May. I accosted her in the hallway and babbled about how she was the first blog I ever read. She was –and still is- a terrific writer.
Back then, I think one had to be a solid writer in order to have a successful blog. There were no (or few) photos, and it was really the words that were transporting.
What is your most recent addition to your list of must-read websites?
When I want a sweet escape, I head to Sweetapolita. She’s a virtuoso in her cake craft and I’ve always had a wicked sweet tooth. You know, Ontario is not very far away; I just may show up on her doorstep one of these days with a fork.
I think we’d get along great.
Three words. Go.
Cook from scratch!
Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you Aimée! We’re honoured to have you here.
All photos of Aimée copyright Tim Chin. The photo of ramps and eggs is copyright Aimée Wimbush-Bourque.