Lauren Reynolds

Private chef, culinary school graduate and second-generation foodie

Welcome to the Dough Mamma food blog. My name is Lauren and I am culinary school graduate and private sous chef. I wish I could say I grew up cooking in the kitchen, however, this is not how my story unfolds. Instead, I grew up eating. At a young age, I developed a great appreciation for fine food as a result of my foodie parents. I remember eating escargot before I could even spell it, frog legs at age 5 and for my sixth birthday, I ordered the steamed Maine lobster. For a little tyke, I had a very adventurous palate. In my teens and twenties I worked in restaurants, primarily, the front of the house. I loved the energy, the excitement of the rush and the camaraderie of the staff. Though I worked in the industry, I had never considered it a viable career option. It was simply a means to an end, a way to pay my bills as I was going to school, traveling or simply living. My original career began as a social worker, working with clients as an intern beginning at the early age of nineteen. I had a deep passion for helping people, primarily troubled teens, as I myself had struggled during adolescence. I later attended graduate school and earned my Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. I passed my state board exams, finished my 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience and became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I continued to specialize in working with troubled teens and expanded my client population to include survivors of sexual assault. Though I felt very fulfilled in my work and considered my job to be my calling, I realized I lacked the ability to leave my work at the office. I worried about clients, I felt deeply affected by their stories and it was challenging for me to find a proper balance. Once I became a mom, I knew I would have to change careers. As a parent, one must constantly give. If I was giving at home as well as the office, I would have very little left to give to my husband or to myself. Thankfully, the prospect of cooking found me just in time. My son's first birthday was approaching and I was searching all over Santa Barbara for organic cupcakes. There wasn't a single bakery in town that made organic baked treats. I decided to forge ahead and make my own. To my surprise they were delicious. Everyone at the party enjoyed them. The validation and instant gratification was so rewarding, it was as though a light bulb went off and I realized then and there, I must pursue cooking. I spent the next two years reading every cookbook, every blog, watching every cooking show and practicing my skills in the kitchen. My husband gained 15 pounds - we were happy. I enrolled in culinary school when my son turned 3, graduated about 4 years later and landed a job as a private chef during my enrollment. The stars aligned as I had found a passion that complemented my family life. I learned it is never too late to try something new, to change careers. It was a risk to go to school and it was uncomfortable at times being 15 years older than most of the students. Often, I felt as though my "peers" considered me a cryptkeeper - old and out of sync., but nothing in life is perfect. Culinary school is not easy. Our class began with 80 students and when it was time to graduate, there were only 23 of us left. Kitchens are hot, instructors will yell at you nose to nose. You will get burned and you will get cut. Customers will be disappointed and you will be doing dishes until your skin peels off. It certainly isn't for everybody and it is not what is reflected on many of the cooking shows. Overall, culinary school helped toughen me up and I will be forever grateful for that life experience. As with most things, the biggest rewards are often derived from the toughest challenges. The culinary world offers an endless opportunity to learn. I love trying new recipes and perfecting old ones. If there is a recipe on my blog, you can be assured I have tested it. I only post recipes I believe are worthy of the time required in the kitchen. All recipes must pass my approval. Please feel free to comment or email me with questions. I hope you enjoy cooking with me, thank you for allowing me to share my passion for food with you. Warm Regards, The Dough Mamma

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