Judi Gallagher will always be Chef Judi to me and those countless admirers who continue to enjoy her miraculous food and experience her contagious smiles. For those who live in the Sarasota area of Florida, you already know her as a regular star on ABC7 TV and publications that regularly feature her recipes and cooking insights.
Blessed with an inscribed copy of Chef Judi’s new cookbook, Reflections & Recipes of Chef Judi, I plunged into a vicarious journey that began with her reminisces of early days in New England and her travels that led to the Sunshine State. If there is one overriding part of Chef Judi’s fascinating life, it is joie de vivre, that intangible attitude to make the best of each precious moment of life no matter the location or circumstance.
The pages of Chef Judi’s book alternate between nostalgia, love of family, the benefits of cooking with fresh ingredients and an impressive display of originality. Chef Judi reminds me of Julia Child: Equal measures of charm, talent, love of worthy things and height. Standing tall and lovely at six-foot-two, as you watch Chef Judi cook and offer anecdotes on her live TV show, the only person who comes to mind is you-know-who.
Chef Judi says that her soul was healed with a love of food. Many, I suspect, might say the same thing. I found her poignant stories and delightful recipes reassuring: Good food, prepared with care and served with an abundance of love proves there is a higher life.
By the way, her recipes for Hummingbird Cake and Strawberries Romanoff are culinary treasures.
Reflections & Recipes of Chef Judi is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You’ll want a copy for your kitchen library and some extra copies as gifts for friends who excel in home entertaining.