For the Love of Seafood with Karista Bennett
In Episode 64 of the Kitchen Confidante Podcast, Liren Baker talks with Karista Bennett about her surprising love story with seafood, the coastal cities she has called home, and her travels that inspired the flavors in her cookbook, For the Love of Seafood.
On the podcast, I recently spoke with my friend, Karista Bennett, a recipe developer, former culinary instructor, photographer, and the author of The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook. Her recipes have been featured in Home by Design and Hobby Farms. She recently released a new book, For the Love of Seafood: 100 Flawless, Flavorful Recipes That Anyone Can Cook.
In this episode, we talk about her surprising love story with seafood, the coastal cities she has called home, and her travels that inspire the flavors in her book.
Listen to the full episode here, or keep reading for some of my favorite moments with Karista.
How did you get into cooking and seafood in particular?
Cooking was my second career. I started in the medical field, working in hospital administration and social work services. Then, after I’d done that for a while, had my second daughter, and moved to a new town, I decided I needed to make a change. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So, I dove into full-time motherhood and eventually decided I wanted to cook.
After a few weeks, I realized I hated my cooking. I could only make a handful of recipes, and they were horrific. Cooking wasn’t making me happy, and nothing tasted good. So, one day I decided to go to culinary school.
I spent about two years at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and loved every second. I left the very first class with tears of joy falling down my face. I thought to myself, “I can do this. Cooking makes so much sense, and I feel so connected to food. This is my joy, so this is how I want to live my life.”
After culinary school, I worked many jobs as I worked my way up. I started in catering, then worked as a prep cook, a cheese specialist, and a sous chef until I decided to start my own private chef business. I spent many years as a private chef and taught some culinary classes for home cooks. Many home chefs wondered how to cook seafood, so teaching is where I got a lot of experience and background knowledge for my latest book.
Tell us about your book, For the Love of Seafood: 100 Flawless, Flavorful Recipes That Anyone Can Cook
The entire first chapter is dedicated to Seafood 101. It teaches you where to get quality seafood, how to choose seafood, what is most sustainable, how to store different seafood, and more. The book is full of recipes that you want to cook and eat rather than feeling overwhelmed.
My book, For the Love of Seafood: 100 Flawless, Flavorful Recipes That Anyone Can Cook, is a seafood primer and cooking class all in one. It is very thorough and an excellent resource for beginners.
How do the places you’ve lived color your cooking and cookbook?
I’ve lived in many places in the U.S., and every region is so different and diverse. I’ve loved the food everywhere, so my book incorporates all these flavor influences. For example, chowders and crab from the East Coast, Cajun-Creole and shrimp and cheesy grits from Louisiana, cornmeal-crusted fish tacos as an ode to the South — I wanted to include it all!
It was important to represent all places I’ve lived and the diverse country we live in, full of all these cuisines and flavors that pair so beautifully with seafood.
For the Love of Seafood: 100 Flawless, Flavorful Recipes That Anyone Can Cook, by Karista Bennett (Countryman Press, 2023).