Written by Charlie Leal | 2015
Who is Teri Diamond? I’ve been asking myself this question for weeks while preparing for this interview. Chef? Songsmith? Self-Published Author? Mother? Devoted wife and granddaughter? It’s 10:00 am in a Santa Monica’s Luxxe Café…I’m about to get my answer…
We’re here to discuss her book In Teri’s Kitchen, a collection of recipes that look almost too good to be true…they are good and most definitely spot-on. For this and many other reasons, In Teri’s Kitchen, certainly finds its way onto the list of must haves. It has earned its place on the kitchen cookbook shelf…but, one might ask, “Is it just another recipe book?” The answer is. Not even close. It’s more. It’s a panoramic view into the life of Teri Diamond; an authentic and meaningful journey that feels oddly familiar…like home.
Printed on paper and bound between colorful covers, In Teri’s Kitchen, captures in life like detail precisely what makes her tick the loudest. The images explain the warm texture she envisioned during the book’s conception. She’s a firm believer in having a complete concept in mind when pursuing anything. “Make an outline, have a strong concept, make sense and above all things…be unique.” There is conviction and discipline added to ingredients that comprise Diamond’s flavor.
These collections of recipes were years in the making for Teri. “It’s a continuation of who I am, cover to cover. It represents who I am as a person.” The defining moment comes from a simmering childhood in Jackson Tennessee and her grandmother’s kitchen. At the age of 16, Teri was compelled to prepare the family Sunday supper from scratch. A family tradition would become the voice of many years to come…“I wanted to share the love I had been given…to make people feel the way I felt.” The perfected experience included fried chicken, fried corn, mashed potatoes and…black-eyed peas. Hearing her describe this collection of flavors has me feeling homesick…She’s good…really good.
Teri’s attraction to cooking is easily and most accurately credited to her grandmother. It isn’t simply a tradition that Teri has inherited; it is a legacy of love. But it’s becoming more evident why she’s smitten the more I talk with her. In a nutshell, Teri adores people; feeding the soul and spirit of others enamors her. She’s the humble voice behind the masterpiece, uninterested in accolades and more driven by generosity. The enormity of a rare person is coming to the surface in this tiny café…we may need a bigger room.
Some folks have their phones bursting with nonsense and selfies…not so with Teri…She shows off images of an organic garden in Nashville, vegetables that are “braggable” and some top secret dishes still on the cutting board. She’s brimming with giddiness and beams like a proud parent grinning from ear to ear. She’s fun…describing one of her favorite “kids”, a lethal milk chocolate concoction called “Gretchen Cookies,” as being “Silly good!”
I wonder how she became so well versed as it seems there’s no scone left unturned with her. “Exposure. I try dishes and I figure out what’s in it. I go home and play. I make it my own. Experimentation leads to invention.” She has a gift. It’s what I’d call “Flavor Facility.” Wine tasters have it, designers hope to have it, art critics claim to have it…Teri definitely possess that extra ability to identify, portion and collage flavors to make them sing as loud as they should…that’s her signature. She has a forensic palate and a contagious excitement for creating new flavors.
Who is Teri Diamond? Her response was greater than what my simple question had asked of her. She is a rare and twinkling stone amongst a shoreline of rough rocks. She explained that the world has wonderful people in it; talented caring, warm, giving folks that have enormous potential to touch the lives of others. We came to this café with the intention of discussing her book. We have, but there’s something more that we have discovered. There is a deeper meaning between its covers; the recipe for life if you will. It is the delicious description of Teri’s response to life…it defines her.
According to Teri, the “more” in life happens when people surround a table and put away the world; no phones, no watches, no tablets, no video games or televisions…just people enjoying the experience of dining together. The fellowship reminds us that we are family with history, sharing nostalgic tales knits the years together from chair to chair; it takes us back to the start. Amidst the stories, the laughter and clamor of dishes, beyond the flicker of a candle’s amber flame, there is a palpable presence falling into delicate focus. It’s seated somewhere very near Teri, it’s her Grandmother. She must be smiling…I know I am.
We can expect to see Teri on HSN (Home Shopping Network) as she invites viewers through the kitchen door. In Teri’s Kitchen, everyone is welcome. She’s saving you a seat at her table…there’s no place like home.