I live, cook, garden and write on a quiet street in Napa Valley. My house is not large but my kitchen is…and my sunny garden is bigger yet. Here, I develop and test recipes for cookbooks and magazine features; evaluate cheeses for my classes and columns; and prepare dinner nightly with my winemaker husband. In my garden—a terraced landscape of roses, fruit trees and raised vegetable beds—I find inspiration for daily cooking and an antidote to deadline stress.

I discovered farmers’ markets and the pleasures of the table as a college student in Provence. Shelving plans for business school, I enrolled in cooking school instead. But it was the two years I spent as a cook at Chez Panisse that shaped my taste, honed my skills and nurtured my interest in fresh produce, small-farm issues and traditional foodways. As a San Francisco Bay Area journalist—first at the Oakland Tribune, then at the San Francisco Chronicle—I have spotlighted the trends and profiled the people who make Northern California such an exhilarating place to cook, eat and work.

I continue to write about food and wine; teach cooking and cheese-appreciation classes, often for private groups; collaborate with chefs, wineries and restaurants on book projects; and undertake custom writing and recipe projects for food and wine clients. My newspaper journalism has been honored with three James Beard Awards and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Bert Greene Award. I was also the scriptwriter on two Beard Award-winning DVDs produced by the Culinary Institute of America. In spare moments between deadlines, you can find me in the garden.