Welcome back to Local Tastemakers, our bi-weekly column where we’ll feature local members of the food community who we want to tell the world about. This month, we travel to Miami and visit Deanna Bossert of The Cooking Collaborative. This former interior designer has taken her passion for local, farm fresh ingredients and has created a world for herself where she spends her time working as a chef, collaborator, educator and as an inspiring, female entrepreneur.
Interview with Deanna Bossert of The Cooking Collaborative
Name: Deanna Bossert
Company: The Cooking Collaborative LLC
Tell us about your first kitchen experience.
My first kitchen experience will always bring me back to home. Our family was always centered around the kitchen table, with hearty, feed-your-soul kind of food.
One of my most vivid memories was my great-grandmother’s rhubarb pie. I never enjoyed its tartness, but wanted to try it every time due to its being something we picked out of the garden for her to prepare.
So many of my family’s recipes are ones that were created from our backyard gardens. To this day, I appreciate the values that my family took part in developing in me at such a young age.
Tell us about your background
All through my youth, I was extremely artistic, mainly involved in the fine arts. When I went off to college, I went to Georgia to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.
After multiple jobs both in the fine arts and the building arts, it brought me to Miami. From there, I walked a few too many hot construction sites, which led me back to where it all began: in the kitchen and garden.
I chose to go back to school for culinary arts and food service management at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, where I became even more genuinely interested in where my food comes from and how it is prepared.
Throughout my culinary journey, I worked with farm-to-table chefs and made a genuine effort to learn more about farming. Also, I worked as a personal chef to a multitude of clients, which led me to opening The Cooking Collaborative.
What’s your favorite drink?
It’s Turmeric and Ginger Kombucha. With its wonderful bacteria for my gut, I handle this “beverage” much better than anything alcoholic.
If you had to have a last meal, what would you have and whom would you be eating with?
My one last meal would likely be something that I grew up with, and surrounded by my family. Many of the meals that remind me of childhood are hearty recipes that align with German or “Pennsylvania Dutch” cooking.
While my eating habits have significantly changed since childhood, there’s something about comfort food and family.
What are you currently working on ?
I am working on a few projects with other small businesses, such as yoga studios, dietitians and a housewares company, as well as being active at local farms to build better relationships.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I am hopeful that the majority of my business will be digital, to be able to not only give me the freedom of being remote but also the ability to reach larger volumes of clients. My goal is not to cook for someone for the rest of my life, but to help others do this for themselves.
What secret talents do you have that we might not know about?
Much of what is seen on our social media accounts and website are done solely on my own. I’ve created graphics, packages and educational pieces, and continue to offer design services to those willing to teach me about areas of food production that I seek to learn.
Do you have any advice for those looking to become a chef?
When I answer this question, I want it to be outlined to the younger generation of chefs, or those who are newer to the industry. We’ve somehow created a belief about this industry that it has to be a painful process before it’s enjoyed, that all kitchens seem to pride themselves on having pot-slinging values like what has been depicted on television.
It may not be easy at first, and you may come across a position you aren’t entirely fond of. The industry isn’t an easy one, and I certainly haven’t stuck it out in your typical commercial kitchens for too long.
You create your path, and you write the rules. You might not write them initially, but you have the power to edit them along the way.
As we move into fall, what are you most excited about?
I’m extremely excited to begin making hearty soups (yes, even in Miami) and roasted root vegetables. I’m also very curious to see what the Little River Cooperative packs into my CSA box to begin experimenting with.
Tell us about some of the local farms you work with.
When did you start working with local farms, and why do you think it’s important?
A few months ago, I began reaching out to local farms to offer photography services for social media purposes, as well as offering design services if desired. This was my way of saying “thank you” for all of the hard work they do for our community.
I have found that by working with local farms, your perspective changes on food, on pricing, on the well-being of their workers, on the nurturing of the product, and more. Factors that are non-existent in our minds as a consumer become very apparent the moment you trade labor at a farm.
Who has helped you get to the place you are now?
So many people. A great deal of my interests in gardening sprouted from Chef Julie Frans and organic gardener Garren Mezza. Chef Chris Bulgarin greatly influenced my confidence in the kitchen, as well as in the initial steps to building my business.
While a great deal of others influenced the steps I took to where I am now, the list would be nearly impossible to create.
Back to The Cooking Collaborative: Why should we love it, and what are you doing that’s truly unique for the culinary world and for you as a chef?
We work to keep our goals in line, as opposed to following what the rest of the world is putting out. We want people to understand the powers that food has – good, wholesome, pure food.
We are taking things a step further, showcasing the steps that are taken before the ingredients are put onto your plate. The process of food production is not a concrete path, nor a singular action. There are so many steps that take place in the production of food, and the reason for bold flavor.
It’s a balancing act that we’re slowly perfecting.
Is there a “little guy” (e.g., a small producer, farmer, etc.) that you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Sun Fresh Farm (getsunfresh.com) in Davie is a farm I hope more locavores get to know. While the farm is still in its premature stages, they have done a great deal of quality work to meet the needs of their customers.
What I have learned in my time at small farms is that they want the support just as badly as we want the freshest products.
Discover more of our local tastemakers.