I think of beer as food, and count myself lucky to know so many great cooks, chefs, brewers, restaurateurs and others who support the culinary arts and craft brewing. About 90 percent of the recipes in THE BEST OF AMERICAN BEER & FOOD are contributed from colleagues and craft brewers, and adapted to home kitchens. There are also a few recipes from my other websites, beercook.com and grillingwithbeer.com. In the last year, I’ve written articles about food, artisan cheesemaking, baking, travel, and book reviews. I live in Wisconsin and am a native of Michigan, and especially enjoy visiting craft breweries around the Great Lakes region.
How did I get started in cooking with beer? I majored in pre-1800 English Lit in college and rather than writing a final paper for my Middle English class, I catered a medieval feast and researched old recipes. I couldn’t find any mead, so I stewed the chicken in cream and Gennessee Cream Ale. During cooking school, I continued to collect recipes and try substitutions with beer – such as swapping stout for dark rum in a Jamaican rum cake. When I met Michael Jackson in 1992, he introduced me to Mark Dorber at the White Horse on Parson’s Green, and I did a stage in the pub kitchen, which launched me on the path to learning more about beer and food. What a generous and kind soul Michael Jackson was, so encouraging to so many writers, chefs, and brewers.
Now, I try to encourage others to join in the large round table of good food and craft beer. For example, I sponsored a trip to San Francisco for an aspiring chef who helped me with recipe testing – she got to enjoy a beer dinner with Beer Chef Bruce Paton. Now, she’s a graduate of Johnson & Wales Culinary School, and continues to promote craft beer in a culinary setting.
And that dialogue with an individual is the best way to open up someone’s mind to the concept of craft beer at the table. I hope you’ll find inspiration for starting the conversation here. cheers, Lucy