As a kid, Sara Moulton didn’t know she wanted to be a chef, but she says her mother did. “When my parents took me on a trip to Europe, I not only loved all the food we ate but I took notes about it,” says the New Yorker, who may be the only chef whose work has been name-checked by the Beastie Boys. “I even wrote about what I ate on the airplane. I was a typical teenager, but I guess I always was really interested in how food was made.”
Moulton is the author of “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners” and also the star of the PBS show, “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” (currently in its second season). Her latest project is “Sara’s Kitchen,” an app she developed to help home cooks whip up delicious and nutritious meals of their own.
Q. Are you an adventurous traveler?
A. I’m sort of a reluctant traveler. I don’t like flying. And yet I travel all the time! So I get it when people say they don’t like to travel. But I do think that once you start, it’s hard to stop. All the inconveniences are worth it when you get to that new destination and see something for the first time.
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A. I would love to go to Africa and go on a safari, but it’s just so expensive. And my son planted the idea of taking the Orient Express. I actually had the opportunity, but never got to take advantage of it. When I had my fifth anniversary at the Food Network a long time ago, they threw a party for me and gave me the gift of a trip for four to anywhere in the world. I never cashed it in and they didn’t honor it when I left. I know, why didn’t I go, right? I was so busy with all these projects going on and only had three weeks of vacation time. My kids were small at the time and we just couldn’t get a schedule worked out.
Q. How have your children been affected by your travels?
A. I’ve been very fortunate that I could take them with me on a lot of trips, so my husband and I took them to Hawaii, the British Virgin Islands, Key Largo, Paris…
Q. Do you eat from street vendors?
A. I do, but I do it a little differently. I love eating good food but I don’t want to eat it standing up on a street somewhere. I like to eat and dine, and not just eat. I would bring the street food back home or to our hotel and set the table and eat it. I know that some people say part of the experience of eating street food is eating it right there with everyone else, but I just want to really focus on the food.
Q. When you travel, do you prefer larger or smaller cities?
A. I like to go to the bigger cities because they’ve all become so exciting. San Francisco is fantastic. Los Angeles is nice, but it’s so hard to get around. I love Chicago, Boston and, of course, New York City — even though I live here. Thinking back, though, I’ve also had really lovely times in smaller cities like San Jose and Charleston.
Q. Do you miss your own cooking when you’re traveling?
A. Yes and no. It’s always fun to have someone else cook for you. At home, if anyone makes me a tuna fish sandwich, I’m happy! My husband is actually a very good cook and used to make things for me when we were dating. But I was a culinary school student and was really obnoxious about pointing out how he didn’t do things right. So now he doesn’t cook at all. I ruined it for myself!
Q. If you could only visit one spot a year, where would it be?
A. Our favorite place that we go to every August is my parents’ old farmhouse in northeast Massachusetts. It was built in 1726 and sits on 100 acres, has six fireplaces, beams on the ceiling, really nice gardens and is just beautiful. We go swimming and have a drink outside. We were depressed when we finally put up aluminum siding because we were all getting tired of painting it every five years. It’s not immaculate. We really need to redo the kitchen and paint the rooms. But it’s really relaxing and a nice place for the family to meet up.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I loved the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas. I was apprehensive about going there because fancy spa places make me a little nervous, like I’m not thin enough or wealthy enough. But this place, while elegant, wasn’t uncomfortably fancy. And it’s about the whole body with meditation, yoga, dance. … I took my husband, Bill, and he just wanted to go hear bands in Austin. So the next year, I took my sister. And I have to say going there is right up there with trips to the farmhouse. The food is extraordinary, too.
© 2012 JAE-HA KIM
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