Published on March 5th, 2012 | by TLV News0
Know Your Local Cook: Erika Clark
Position & Restaurant: Sweetpea Sweets, home baker and owner. I pay the bills by rolling sushi/serving at Two Stick and bake in my spare time.
Hometown: I was born in Tupelo, Miss., but from moving all over I claim Louisiana as my home (and heart).
How did you get into cooking? I was born into it. Part of my family is from Italy and like all good Italian families we have our signature secret recipes we swear are better than all others.
Who is your favorite cook/chef? I don’t tend to follow chefs like some foodies. I follow the food. If it’s good, I’ll eat it…doesn’t matter if it was my best friend’s mom or the chef at the French Laundry.
What kitchen tool/utensil could you not live without? My KitchenAid 5 qt. Professional stand mixer.
What is the best thing about your job? Being my own boss and deciding what recipes to create next and when.
What is your favorite flavor combo? I love anything sweet and sour…and spicy.
Name three items in your fridge: homemade yogurt cheese, strawberries, and eggs.
Where do you get your best recipe ideas? The internet. I think of a flavor combination and then see if it has been done yet and how. Then I try to top it. I also love to recreate old classics such as my red velvet cheesecake or peach cobbler cheesecake.
What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten? How does any chef narrow this down to one thing? I loved the “wood-oven roasted pork shoulder with smoked ham hock, braised black turtle beans, charred salsa verde and spiced carrots” and affogato for dessert from Avec in Chicago. I love the bananas foster french toast from Stanley in New Orleans. One of the most unique and freshest by far was all the Thai food I had in Thailand from street venders of fresh mango and chicken satay to the best papaya salads (and spiciest!) made fresh every time you order.
Personal specialties: Everyone knows me for the specialty cheesecakes I do at Two Stick. Between my Italian food and fancy desserts I’m sure to fatten up the diners.
Favorite Midnight snack: My mom and I would always buy cheap yellow cake mix just so we could snack on cake batter before making a small cake. Now they make cake batter ice cream so we can skip the Salmonella risk.
Favorite Kitchen Music: Typically I don’t listen to anything, but if I do I have to be able to sing to it.
Who would you most like to cook for and what would you prepare? My grandfather died when I was 12, so he never got to try my cooking after the country fried steaks and chocolate oatmeal cookies. I would love to cook for him a starter of grilled ravioli, grilled bread salad with a balsamic-honey-thyme dressing, family recipe lasagna (with handmade pasta), and finish with an assortment of bite-sized cheesecakes and lemon sponge pudding.
Where do you like to dine in Oxford? SNACKBAR!!
Favorite restaurant in the world: It’s all about the desserts for me. I could eat the pistachio gelato at Spindini in Memphis every day.
Aspirations: Hopefully I’ll have my own shop to set up a commercial space where I can have room to spread out all my baking stuff and not contain it to ¾ of my kitchen space at home.
Fried catfish: eat the tail or not? I’m not a big catfish person. So, I’ll say no. But if you’d asked, “Crawfish: suck the head or not?” I would say definitely suck the head.