Hi everyone, I just thought I’d introduce myself!
My name is Leigh-Ann Martin. I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. I started travelling to the U.S. at 5 years but in the fall of 2006, I permanently moved to the U.S. and currently reside in New Jersey.
I started cooking for my family at 12 years old, although, my mother argues that I was only 10 years old when I first picked up the cooking spoon. I remember my mother giving me three hours on a Sunday morning to prep, cook lunch (for Sunday and Monday), set the table, and present the meal to the rest of my family. It was hard and she was hard on me, but her training me at that tender age really did set the tone for who I am as a person today.
After years of contemplating cooking school, I finally enrolled in 2011. Graduating with high honors, I am a proud alumna of the Institute of Culinary Education and have been a culinary professional ever since. I’ve worked with one of the industry’s leading lady chefs, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli at Butter Restaurant and The Darby Supper Club. From the time I met Alex in the pages of Art Culinaire, I knew being able to work under and learn from her would be invaluable.
In 2014, I had the pleasure of creating a Caribbean-inspired menu and cooking for a private supper club in New York City with my mentor, Chef Elle Simone of SheChef Organization. Putting together what I learned working in a restaurant and having a passion of showcasing Caribbean food in a fine dining atmosphere was one of the most amazing experiences in my culinary career to date.
I created the blog Gasparillo Junction (named after the village where I grew up) to share the recipes I create at home for myself. Cooking for one is not the easiest thing and it can get boring, or so I’ve heard from some of my single friends. My cooking style is comprised of four basic elements:
1. Caribbean flavors
2. Simple ingredients
3. Easily replicable techniques
4. Beautiful plating
I also want to breathe new life into the cooking process, making restaurant-quality meals fun, quick, and accessible to the average single lady or gentleman.
I go by Chef LAM, but being a chef doesn’t mean I know everything about food and the food industry. I am always down to learn more and receive feedback on my recipes. This is a journey that we’re taking together, so I also want to hear about the recipes you create for your single life. I look forward to reading your comments and please don’t be shy to leave your cooking tips as well.