Chef, Author & Founder of the
Purple Kale Kitchenworks
Chef and author of the cookbook, “The Nimble Cook,” Ronna Welsh, on how to make the most of your ingredients, being OK with being an imperfect cook, and tips on how to cook, store and preserve food
Meet Ronna Welsh, chef, author, and founder of Purple Kale Kitchenworks, a cooking school based in Brooklyn NY where she teaches practical cooking strategies to help individuals become more confident, efficient, and nimble cooks. “After all, a “scrap” is just food you haven’t figured out how to use.
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Q & A with Ronna Welsh
1. City of residence: Brooklyn, NY
2. Place of birth: Philadelphia, PA
3. In under five sentences, define your business:
The aim of my work is to scale the methods of the professional kitchen to the home. This includes adapting these strategies to the whims, mishaps, and inconsistencies of everyday life. I teach the perspective you need to cook with whatever is on hand, no matter how much (or little) time or experience you have, what food you have (or don’t) on hand, and how many (or few) people you have to feed.
4. What is the best part of the work you’re doing?
Beyond reducing food waste, I am increasing awareness about using excellent ingredients, which, I hope, will go a long way toward supporting sustainable agricultural practices.
5. What inspired you to open Purple Kale Kitchenworks?
I had been working in NY restaurants as both chef and pastry chef for 10 years when I had my first daughter. At nine months, we realized that Eleanor has significant developmental delays and I needed to stay home with her to manage a team of therapists who would come to our home daily. They took note of how I was feeding my daughter—simply, individually prepared ingredients combined in thoughtful ways—and wanted to learn more about how to cook for themselves. Purple Kale was created to address a need I saw for people to get more comfortable in the kitchen, cooking what they had on hand, without plan or forethought, without waste or use of a complicated recipe. Parents were a natural first audience for this, but I learned quickly that the problem of deciding in a quick moment “what to eat” was universal.
6. What three tips can you share with the busy individual/parent who feels they don’t have time to cook/aren’t good at it?
- Take one small step at a time. For instance, don’t spend too much time deciding what kind of pasta dish to make, when you can use that time to start your pot of salty water on the stove.
- Ask what one thing you could do to just one ingredient. Maybe you slice the onions on your counter. Maybe you freeze the small number of rich drippings from the bottom of a chicken pan to use to fortify a soup later in the month. Don’t worry at that precise moment what the onions or pan drippings will be for. Part of the game is stocking up for possibilities, even those unplanned or unknown.
- Open your mind to many ideas of a meal. A meal doesn’t mean that everything needs to “go together” on one plate, nor that everyone eats the same thing. Sometimes, a table filled with little dishes—a sliced, in-season apple, avocado dressed with herbs and lemon, grilled sausage, a mug of richly seasoned chicken stock–each delicious in its own way, is enough.
7. If you could share just one piece of wisdom with the world, what would it be? Not knowing is okay.
8. What book(s) are you currently reading? Educated by Tara Westover
9. Using one word, how would you describe yourself? Open.
10. What is one random fact that most people don’t know about you? I love to dance.