Intense, “quietly ferocious intelligence” is what pops to mind after about 10 minutes with Brigitte Pauli-Barlos. She burns with focus.
A newly published cookbook in hand (“The Homegrown Gourmet,” 2013 Pauli-Barlos), this author/chef is sharpening her knives for the hugely popular Food Network show, “Chopped.” “Chopped: Cookbook Authors” is set to air late October or early November 2013.
So is she scared?
“No not at all,” she says, explaining why not. “You have basically three to five ingredients in a basket that you have to use according to your imagination — that’s what I do all the time. I actually cook while I shop.”
Pauli-Barlos said anyone can sign up. There’s a dedicated Food Network website with a long form to fill out. Afterwards a producer called her, asked some questions and, voila, she’s was on board.
Husband Mark Barlos and a few other friends send her “practice basket” scenarios on Facebook, saying ‘OK, you have a, b and c. What do you do with that?’) and off she rattles a menu (or occasionally gets stumped).
“It is daunting,” she admits, countering quickly with a shrug, saying, “but I’ve been practicing all my life for it.”
That, and the fact that she’s addicted to gardening and using all her garden gold (produce) in imaginative, delicious and most importantly, “healthy” meals, is her daily inspiration, 24/7. Not to mention that husband Mark is a diabetic.
At a recent book launch cooking and signing event at Lily’s in The Garden of San José on Camino de la Placita last month, she said the tearoom was packed.
“It was a full house, with people even standing outside in dreary weather. The food was all gone. I was surprised with the turnout, which to me means there’s a pretty strong interest in this subject here in Taos.”
She guesses the average age of the group was in the 40s, with an even split of males to females.
“People who came had a lot of questions, so that would indicate to me that they had a basic knowledge, and they just wanted to know how.”
Questions were aimed at how much time the garden takes, how much money it costs, and diabetes.
“Diabetes was one of the issues they were very interested in. It gets expensive. You could easily spend $250 per month on all the medications. So if you can correct some things with diet, you could maybe get that cost down to $4 per month. That’s important, especially with the income levels around here.”
“Instead of going to gyms that charge a fee and eating lousy food from fast-food joints, we can all plant our own harvest and get in touch with the source of our nutrients again,” she says, a frequent mantra that peppers her consciousness and runs throughout her book.
As far as “Chopped” goes, she said she will seriously jump into “training” in June, taking four to five intense weeks “really drilling it.”
“You have to time it. Everything is timing. You actually have adjustments during the shooting schedule. That’s very valuable time when you have a moment to rethink what you’re doing.”
And yes, she does have a favorite judge, but wisely, she won’t spill the beans until after the competition. She’s pretty sure the producers will scan everything she’s ever written and that’s ever been written about her up to the day she arrives in New York for the taping in July.
For now, she will keep us apprised of her TV show progress and cooking/gardening demos. “The Homegrown Gourmet” is available at amazon.com. For more information, check out her newly created website homegrowngourmet.info.