My interest in cooking began in college, with a single contraband burner smuggled into my dorm room. I fiddled around, cooking simple food, and in the end discovered something far more satisfying than just a meal.The smells of sizzling eggs and stir-fries emanating from my illicit kitchen lured people to my room. Word spread, as did enthusiasm, and I was hooked. Food comforts. Food brings people together, and I wanted to create and nurture that kind of community.

After college I moved to Chicago and quickly grew restless with my finance degree, pining for the days when friends showed up at my door in search of dinner. In 1994, I headed to the Culinary School at Kendall College, and earned a certificate of professional cookery. Soon after, my husband and I moved to New York City, where I landed my dream internship at Food & Wine. There I worked my way from intern to associate editor of cookbooks, learning invaluable skills in recipe development, food writing, and tasting along the way.

In 2004, a bourgeoning food scene drew my family to Portland, Oregon. Around the same time, a series of bizarre neurological problems eventually led to the discovery of my gluten intolerance. I embraced my new calling to teach others what I know about gluten-free cooking, and in 2008 started writing my “Gluten Freedom” column for the Oregonian’s FoodDay section. I contribute articles and recipes to many other local and national publications as well.

My most exciting endeavor (so far) has been writing my two cookbooks, Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables (Ten Speed Press) and The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. Through my writing and teaching, I’m rediscovering that sense of community that first intrigued me as a college freshman. Plus I get to cook for a living. What more could I ask for?