The June You & Julia Challenge is underway, kicked off by Tiffani Faison, chef and owner of Sweet Cheeks, Tiger Mama, and Fool's Errand in Boston. We had the chance to chat with Faison at Fool's Errand about her favorite kind of cheese, advice for making a cheese soufflé, and her most cherished Julia Child memories.
Q: What's your favorite kind of cheese?
Picking my favorite kind of cheese to eat is like picking your favorite child out of a family of 100. It's impossible. If I had to narrow my favorite cheese down to one, I would say Éppoisses. Unpasteurized Éppoisses in Europe.
Q: What's your favorite cheese to use when cooking?
Eating cheese when it's perfectly temperate and lovely is one thing — cooking with cheese is a totally different game. My favorite cheeses to cook with, if I had to pick two: Fontina. I love the meltiness and creaminess of it. And Parmesan — it’s so easily used in so many great recipes; it makes it more funky and rich and lovely and just unbelievably luscious. If I had to sneak one in there, I would say a little slice of American cheese on any grilled cheese sandwich.
Q: What advice do you have for making a cheese soufflé?
Making a cheese soufflé is not exactly a beginner's task. But in the spirit of Julia, don't be intimidated by it. We make mistakes. Not a big deal — keep moving on. One: Make sure you get those egg whites really fully beat. You're not going to get a great soufflé if you don't have stiff white beats. The second thing (and this is the hardest and most important thing): Do not open that oven. Don't touch it. Leave the door shut. I know you're so excited about this thing that you've made, but that's the core of baking: you really have to follow all the steps. Follow the recipe and then trust that it will get there in the end.
Q: How do you incorporate dairy into your cooking?
We tend to use a lot of dairy in my restaurants. There are a lot of different ways to do it. We love butter. We love cream. We love cheese. But here's what I will tell you about cooking with cheese: When you bring dairy into a dish, I promise you that what you're trying to achieve is cravability. So add lots — lots of butter, lots of cream, lots of cheese. We're not on a diet here. Once you bring dairy into the picture, give yourself what you crave.
Q: What’s your favorite Julia Child memory?
There are so many great things about Julia to be remembered. My favorite is the Chicken Sisters. I love that episode and it's the epitome of what Julia did and what she was great at. She took something that no one necessarily cared about — different types of chicken — and explained it in a really hilarious, fun way and why that mattered.
The brilliance of Julia is that she did not take herself seriously; she studied the craft of cooking and really understood the science and art behind it, but there was no pretense. There was no stuffiness and she invited people to come in and make mistakes and have a good time and enjoy food and enjoy what they were doing, without getting worked up. So she was really the first person to say, “It's just food.”
Q: Why do you think Julia Child still resonates so strongly today?
I think Julia resonates so deeply with all of us cooks, to home cooks, to people who just want to start getting into cooking and baking, because she was so available; she was the most unlikely person to be the hero of cooking. There was no pretense. She was not a classically-trained chef. She just kind of stumbled her way through it. She let us watch pancakes fall on the ground. She let us watch her burn food. She let us into the fact that perfection is not the goal. She invited us to make mistakes and overall enjoy cooking and have fun.
Submit your take on Julia Child's Cheese Soufflé @WGBHBoston on Facebook, in the comments section, or on Twitter or Instagram using #YouAndJulia by Sunday, June 16 for a chance to be featured across our digital and social channels as one of our Favorites.