Chasing Flavors

Home is Where the Cook Is

By MarcusSamuelsson.com | December 30, 2013

Jamie and her boys preparing pan fried chicken fingers.

With the continuing rise of celebrity chefs and cheftestants on TV,we cannot forget the amazing home cooks who aren’t looking to win the big cash prize. They’re just looking to prepare good food for their family and friends. One such person is Jamie Rhoden, a mother of two growing boys who has been teaching her children how to cook ever since they could eat solid food. With Jamaican and Puerto Rican roots, the Harlem resident encourages her boys to taste every kind of cuisine to expose their palates to different flavors, making sure they know the difference between a bell pepper and chili pepper, and how to prepare fresh food that is healthy and delicious.

Who do you cook for at home?

I cook for my two boys on a daily basis.

What or who inspires your cooking?

My boys are my motivation…I grew up with a single father and his standards were home cooking every night. Coming from Jamaica (since it such a poor country), you learn to stretch meals and get creative with your dishes. So growing up with fast food wasn’t a part of my lifestyle and I vowed that once I had children I would do the same with only exposing them to home cooking. I mean, don’t get me wrong. They eat [fast food] but the choice will always be mom’s food.

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What kind of food do you enjoy to cook the most?

I love the fact that I am mixed with Puerto Rican and Jamaican and instill my culture to my boys. So I would say that Jamaican is my favorite to cook because of the spices, and the natural earthiness of our food entices the palate.

If there is one dish that is your signature, what would it be?

Funny my signature dish is a between red pea soup and pastillos. I would say my best thing to cook are my pastillos, which are Puerto Rican, but mine are amazing. It is always what people ask me to make for parties or even just because I’m going to be around.

Click here for a pastillos recipe that you can make at home. 

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