Recently named one of the eight sexiest women on TV cooking shows, Aida Mollenkamp also happens to have a wealth of culinary expertise and knowledge in addition to being a hot TV food personality.
The host and co-creator of the television show “FoodCrafters” and “Ask Aida” she attended Cornell University and then the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where she studied culinary AND pastry arts. She ended up in San Francisco when she became one of the editors of the online food magazine, CHOW. Currently, she’s working on her first cookbook, tentatively titled, “Keys to the Kitchen,” due out in 2012.
She recently took some time out of her hectic schedule to tell me about her love of food and the top spots in the Bay Area she'd recommend for food fiends like herself (that aren't restaurants).
Elaine: You call yourself a “long-time food fiend.” Where does your love of food come from?
Aida: Oh, that’s a hard one. It’s like asking me why I like to dance (she’s a former classical dancer) -- it’s just the way it is and always has been. My family showed me to respect food and through gardening and shopping with my mom, I also learned where my food came from. But, I guess there was this kismet moment in my teen years where I realized that food was like a cipher to understanding various cultures. From that moment on, I’ve looked at cooking as a means of traveling through my tastebuds.
Elaine: Where did the idea for your show “FoodCrafters” come from?
Aida: My friends would say the show is just an extension of how I naturally live as I’m constantly hunting down new tastes and food stories. The real story is that it is a creative collaboration with a producer I worked with on “Ask Aida.” We shared a passion for good quality food and would constantly trade stories about the latest tastes she hunted down in Brooklyn and those I had found in San Francisco. “FoodCrafters” became this natural fit of a show where my passions could be explored while giving the small guy the spotlight as we uncover foods, flavors, and stories from around the nation.
Elaine: You’ve lived in some of the best food areas in the world: Los Angeles, New York, Florence, Paris, and now San Francisco. How is the Bay Area different from all of them, food-wise?
Aida: Each city I’ve lived in has its own culture, and with it, its own food personality. San Francisco’s food scene is integrated into our daily lives in a way that I’ve only seen in Europe, but it’s also decidedly Californian as we’re simultaneously playful, respectful, and creative.