Linda Gassenheimer Interview TV and Radio Personality/Syndicated Journalist/Best-Selling Author/Spokesperson and Food Consultant

She holds an advanced Cordon Bleu Degree.
She trained with two star chefs in France for three years.
She trained with Simone Beck in the South of France and Marcella Hazan in Bologna, Italy.
She has 10 years’ experience as Executive Director of a chain of gourmet supermarkets in Miami.
She developed and ran Cruisin Ease cooking school in London, England.
She is – Linda Gasseheimer

Q – How did you get interested in the world of cooking Linda?
A – Well, first and foremost I love to eat.

Q – Don’t we all!
A – (Laughs). In fact when I got married, my husband loved to eat too. I said to my mother, what am I going to do? He loves to eat. My mother said, I’m not worried about you. You love to eat too! (Laughs). So, I learned.

Q – Did you then go to school to learn how to cook?
A – My husband is a very good cook as well. So, we used to cook together when we were first married. But then we move to Europe and I was exposed to the most wonderful food. The fast food didn’t really exist there then. When we lived in Paris I took lessons from lots of different chefs and it helped me learn my French and it helped me learn all about the French foods. After that I took a Cordon Bleu Degree.

Q – Did you work alongside any famous French chefs the world might have heard of?
A – In Paris, no. They were local, one star, two star chefs. I also must say when people ask me how what I learn about cooking? I say if you know basic cooking technique, the best thing you could do is go to is  go and eat in wonderful restaurants throughout Europe and ask lots of questions. So, I lived in France for three years and I traveled all over France and I’d never stopped asking questions, tasting the food and understanding it was wonderful. Also when I was there I ran a food and vegetable cooperative, buying everything the wholesale fruit and vegetable market. I got great recipes from the vendors, the people that grow them.

Q – Didn’t that take some start-up capital to get that cooperative going?
A – The wonderful thing why it was cooperative is that I had my money before I went to do my buying. But, what always happened was, and I could only afford to buy what was in season that day, not even that week, but, that day, what was cheap that day. Sometimes I didn’t know what it was. But, I also would see the most wonderful things that I couldn’t resist so I would buy extra hoping that no one would buy them from me then I could eat the whole case, but, I always sold out. (Laughs).

Q – What inspired you to write your “Dinner In Minutes” cookbook?
A – Well, I had three hungry boys, very busy. They all like good food and I wanted them to have healthy food. So, quick dinners were important. When I moved to Miami, the Miami Herald asked me to write for them and I developed my “Dinner In Minutes” column with them and the book grew out of the column. That’s what people want today. They want food to be quick and easy and healthy.

Q – That “Dinner In Minutes” column goes around the world does it?
A – Yes, it does. Knight-Ridder Tribute Wire.

Q – What brought you back to the US after living so many years in Europe?
A – In fact, my husband’s work brought him back, but, we had been trying to come back to the states because our children had come back to go to the University and we wanted to be back here with them.

Q – How do you have time to do everything you have to do in a day? Do you have assistants?
A – No, I don’t have help. (Laughs). No, my husband helped me. He edited a lot of my work.

Q – Are you still involved with that supermarket?
A – Well, I’m the Executive Director of Gardener’s Markets. It’s a family owned market. It’s small. It’s for stores. I worked directly with the owner. It’s the Gardener family. Yeah, that’s a big job.

Q – Yes. That alone is a big job.
A – Yes, it is.

Q – Do you have to put in an eight hour day?
A – What I do is I work Monday through Thursday for them. It usually works out to be seven days a week. Today’s Friday and I spent half the day organizing things for Gardeners. I mean, it goes back and forth I guess I’m a total foodie. I’m in the food business. When I was in Europe I ran a cooking school and owned and ran the cooking school and wrote three cookbooks for various magazines. So, I’ve always been on the consumer side of things and I had not been in the retail business. When they asked me to work for them, Gardeners Markets, I thought this would be an interesting opportunity. So, I feel now I have the complete cycle of the food cycle, how it gets to the consumer and what they should do with it once they get it.

Q – Tell me about Gardeners Supermarkets. What kind of food do they sell?
A – It’s a full-service supermarket which means they have produce, fish, meat, a deli and specialty goods but, they also have dog food and cat food. You could make it your one-stop shopping if you wanted to. But, for the most part it’s specialty food. It’s something like maybe Balducci’s in New York. Our stores are very small. We have our own commissary kitchen and make all of the deli and prepared foods ourselves. We have our own bakery. We make all the cakes and breads. Because of my connection with the supermarkets it is connected with my column as well because it goes all over the United States. I need to know that you can buy these goods anywhere in the United States and Canada to create these quick dinners. All of my dinners fit within the gourmet guidelines for fat content. I write for America Online and have live chats with people. I get a good idea of what’s happening throughout the United States what people really want, first and foremost is it has to taste good. It has to be delicious. Then, it has to be quick and easy. If it doesn’t hit those two barriers and you’re in a hurry and you’ve got to get that dinner on the table every single night and you’ve got people waiting and homework waiting and everything else, those are the two most important things. And then, if it can be you’d like it to be healthy. So, that’s really what people want. But, I know when they come into the market looking for food or I talk to them on the phone or whatever, the first and foremost thing is it has to taste good. If it doesn’t taste good they won’t eat it. They want it to taste good. And then, they want it to be healthy. With my Dinner In Minute’s column and my book which did win the James Beard Award, first and foremost those recipes have to taste good, because my sons said to me they don’t want to be embarrassed. (Laughs). All recipes have to pass by them.

Q – What if any trends do you see in people’s eating habits?
A – One trend I think is starting a little bit, and it’s a very minor trend; people can’t afford to go out or by food in every single night of the week. After Chinese, pasta, pizza what’s next? Roasted chicken? Okay So, there’s 300 nights left. (Laughs).

Q – I’ve known people who order pizza three nights a week!
A – Right. Well, that’s expensive. If you’re a four-person family that really adds up and it’s not healthy and people want to be able to buy something at a supermarket that they can assemble quickly at home. That’s my new column. It’s called”minute meal. ”

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Note: This interview was conducted February 7, 1997.

© Gary James All Rights Reserved

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