One of the first graduates of the Robert Reynolds Chef Studio in
Portland, OR, Caroline left a corporate marketing career for full-time
pursuit of her twin passions, cooking and gardening. She and husband
Larry now co-own two businesses in the Portland area. In their primary
business, Verdura Culinary Gardens, the Lewises design, build and
maintain organic raised-bed vegetable gardens to encourage people to eat
better and learn to garden in their own back yards. They also own the
private events catering company, Fleur de Sel Cuisine, catering which
focuses on fresh Mediterranean cuisine.
teaching focuses on the connection between garden and table and on the
importance and pleasure of working with local, organic ingredients.
Caroline's eclectic cooking style reflects her formal studies in French,
Italian, Indian and Mexican cuisines.
classes that Caroline teaches at In Good Taste explore authentic
regional cuisines, including French, Italian and Pacific Northwest. She
helps students learn to cook based on what is available in the garden or
at the market, and emphasizes seasonal variations to recipes. Caroline's
favorite classes to teach are those that focus on the basics of a
specific construct - such as making soups or pizza - and then explore
the many ways those recipes can be modified to suit what's available or
the cook's preferences that day.
Caroline is a member of Oregon
Tilth, Slow Food USA, and Chefs Collaborative. She is also a
contributing writer to Culinate, writing blog postings exploring organic
growing techniques and how to take advantage of the seasonal harvest.
When they're not in the garden or the kitchen, the Lewises divide
their time between their family home in St. Rémy de Provence and various
tropical scuba diving destinations.
Interview with Caroline
do you hope students leave with from your classes?
I'm doing regional dinners, I try to convey a sense of place and to talk
about how the food in a certain region developed and why people there
use their unique ingredients and techniques. But the most important
thing to me is to help students learn to cook with what they have in
their pantries and gardens at any given time. I feel a real sense of
accomplishment when people can move away from specific recipes and learn
to think that way.
Q: What are your favorite foods
A: That is such a long list, it's almost
embarrassing. I love almost any ethnic food, especially Chinese, Thai
and Indian. I explore a lot of Sichuan and Hunan cooking at home. I also
love French bistro and authentic Mexican food. And I adore good
chocolate in almost anything.
Q:What's your favorite easy
go-to meal? What do you reach for when get home from work tired?
A: I'd have to say pasta. We grow a lot of basil in our
garden and freeze individual batches of pesto. So pesto noodles or
spaghetti carbonara make frequent appearances on our table.
was your favorite childhood memory of food?
A: Watching my
Dad cook, especially when he had a dinner party he was prepping for. He
was an amazing home cook; ambitious, creative and unafraid to explore. I
inherited his adventurousness and fearlessness in the kitchen.
What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: On the low
tech end, my wonderful Mexican lemon juicer. On the high tech end, my 30
year old Kitchen Aid mixer. I have an ice cream maker, meat grinder, and
pasta maker that all attach to it, and that thing is the workhorse of my