Chef. Writer. Storyteller. Executive Producer. Creative Professional. Is it any surprise that Pati Jinich considers herself the quintessential Levenger customer? “I love what you do,” Pati says. “Levenger provides classic, high-quality tools for creating new things.” Thanks to Pati, the new Pati Jinich Chef’s Notebook she’s designed will inspire many of us in our culinary endeavors.
Bubbly and vivacious, with a zest for life and a passion that she shares with the world via her best-selling books and award-winning TV series Pati’s Mexican Table and La Frontera, Pati Jinich is a true Renaissance person of seemingly inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm that’s contagious.
What most may not know is that this beloved celebrity chef is at heart an academic. Pati considers herself a teacher first and foremost, using the avenue of food as her touchstone.
“For me, food is the most noble way to teach what I know and what I have learned, to enrich lives and inspire creativity in others,” Pati says. “Through food, we create, gather and share experiences together and learn something about our different cultures.”
“As Levenger does through their products, my goal is to empower people with the tools they need to create. I hope to help people feel more empowered in the kitchen, sharing my knowledge about ingredients and regions, history and culture.”
Pati’s academic roots instilled a lifelong love of reading and the habit of taking exhaustive notes to document her experiences, impressions and of course, recipes. “I am a very big note-taker, “ she confirms. “I always have a notebook beside me. There’s no better way to remember something than by writing it down. I fill notebook after notebook with all the stories I have learned in my work and travels.”
No wonder Pati is so prolific. Her penchant for taking handwritten notes has resulted in three best-selling cookbooks, including her most recent Treasures of the Mexican Table, now available in a special leather-bound Levenger edition. She’s currently working on her fourth cookbook, utilizing the Circa note-taking system featured in the new Chef’s Notebook she’s created exclusively for Levenger. “Circa is so useful for creating a cookbook. You can add and rearrange the pages as the content changes and expands.”
Her continuing journey as chef, teacher and storyteller has helped Pati develop what she refers to as sazón—the Spanish word for seasoning but its deeper meeting implies your own way to add flavor to life and food; and that can change as you mature, experience, grow and develop.
Pati hopes her work will help people feel more at home in the kitchen. “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. What’s the worst that could happen? If a dish doesn’t turn out exactly like you wanted, wrap it up in a warm tortilla—tuck it into a taco.” Her more serious advice to the would-be cook is to be prepared, follow the French tradition of mise en place (making sure you have all the ingredients laid out and ready before starting to cook) and to take the time and focus needed to create your dish. “And do try a recipe from a different culture—invite the world into your kitchen.”
Though she’s a busy and energetic person, there are two distinct sides to Pati Jinich. “Most people don’t know I live a radically double life,” she says with a laugh. “They see the very extroverted Pati who goes out and travels the world to meet and socialize with people. The other Pati is actually very introverted, quietly hibernating at home, cooking and testing recipes by myself, with my dog Mila always next to me.”
Pati’s Holiday Traditions
As the holiday season draws near, we asked Pati to share some of her family’s traditions and celebrations. Though she’s lived with her husband in Chevy Chase, Maryland for the past 12 years, raising three sons, the traditions of her home country of Mexico are an integral part of the family’s celebrations.
“We don’t have a Thanksgiving in Mexico, but it has become my favorite American holiday,” Pati says. “We love celebrating it all: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Las Posadas (a week-long celebration of the story of the Nativity December 16-December 24), Christmas... and then Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) comes on January 6. I think Mexicans give and receive more gifts on Three Kings Day than on Christmas Eve.”
According to Pati and Latin tradition, the most important tradition for any holiday gathering—and that includes weekend family dinners and get-togethers—is the concept of sobremesa. “The literal translation is ‘over the table,’ but it really means that precious time spent after a meal, hanging out with family and friends,” Pati explains. “We spend time in conversation, grateful for the food we ate, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, and then eating again. We never skip dessert and coffee.”
Happy holidays from Pati Jinich and the entire Levenger family. To learn more about Pati and keep up with her latest news and content, visit patijinich.com. Photos of Pati by Jennifer Chase.