Beth Sorrell brings more to the stove than her enjoyment in the simple pleasures of cooking. She’s a chemist and a mixologist whose knowledge of flavors and ingredients guides her tasty experiments. She’s a longstanding member of Fair Shares, a combined community supported agriculture program that features locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and artisan foods, which sharpened her awareness of where her food comes from. Her goal for 2015, to eat less pre-packaged foods, has already broadened her culinary skills to bake homemade savory crackers. Cheeses, including nut cheeses, are next on her list, the perfect complement to her interesting crackers.
What are some of your earliest food memories? We ate at home as a family and didn’t go out to eat when I was young. When I was 14, my dad died, and that changed. I still remember my first taste of Chinese take-out. Today, Matt and I often eat at home because I truly enjoy cooking.
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How did you start cooking? My brother, my sister and I — we all did the Junior Gourmet cooking classes through the Post. My brother Bob won our neighborhood bake-off when he was 12. He’s still an amazing cook today. He even built a wood-fired pizza oven in his backyard.
What are your inspirations today when you develop recipes? My husband Matt is a food writer, so we talk a lot about flavors and food. Matt is also a mixologist. We also have a business, Cocktails are Go, and we are around great food and drinks. One of our favorite inspirations for recipes is “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It’s not a cookbook, but a guide to food affinities, what ingredients work well together.
Give us an example of how you use “The Flavor Bible.” When I decided to make crackers, I found a New York deli rye cracker recipe online, but I didn’t have rye flour. I also didn’t like the honey in the recipe. I had flour and almond meal, and caraway so I looked up “caraway” and discovered garlic, cumin and coriander complemented its flavors. I rewrote the recipe to my tastes.
What’s on your agenda for 2015? I want to eat fewer pre-packaged foods, so I will learn to make my favorites, starting with crackers and cheeses. Matt and I plan to teach more classes this year at Cocktails are Go. I’m sitting for my Level 1 sommelier test in Charleston in early February, so I’m studying.
You’ve got a full plate. How do you find work/life balance? I love what I do. I’m a chemist. When I’m working in the lab, my work helps heal people. When I’m thinking about the chemistry of a cocktail, it’s interesting. Teaching is an activity Matt and I share and enjoy. That’s the balance. Find what makes you happy and do it.
Age • 48
Family • Husband Matt
Occupation • Owner at Cocktails are Go and clinical laboratory scientist
Neighborhood • Richmond Heights