About Jan

sur le plat blog

The phrase “sur le plat” is French for “on the dish (or plate),” and is a tribute to the French influence you will discover in many of my recipes.

I love anything associated with food and creating beautiful, eye appealing and tasty meals. I love to use my antique damask linens, heirloom silver, family china, odd wine glasses and pieces from my pottery collection. “Sur le Plat” represents the entire planning process from menu details, going to the market or the grocery, ironing the linens, setting the table, cutting fresh flowers or greenery from the garden, and preparing the fresh ingredients for a meal. It’s about creating an ambience and a story to share with family and friends as we celebrate food together.

My cooking style has been strongly influenced by my French and Spanish ancestry as well as Native American, African, Italian, Irish and other cuisines and cultures that are indigenous to the rich area of Louisiana where I reside. I am passionate about creating authentic food that focuses on fresh, regional, and seasonal ingredients.  

My cooking inspiration comes from a collection of memories, stories, family recipes, food celebrations and traditions.

Many of my earliest memories were of my mom in the kitchen, lovingly preparing home cooked meals every day to share at the family table when Dad came home from work. Delicious smells wafted from simmering cast iron pots of stewed chicken, red beans or gumbo. Paneed veal and homemade French fries or mom’s meatballs with fresh creole tomato sauce tantalized our senses. I was given my first cookbook, “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls,” when I was ten years old. I was determined to master every recipe in the book from the Easter hat cake and the clown cupcakes to the pigs in a blanket.

As a child we spent summers at my paternal grandparents house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have vivid memories of my cousins and I eating fresh boiled crabs that we caught that morning from the pier or fried croaker from the bayou served with grits for breakfast. My grandfather always needed help from the grandchildren, or “cochons” as he fondly referred to us, cranking the ice cream maker to produce his unforgettable Creole cream cheese ice cream. Maw Maw, my grandmother, knew how to elevate an ordinary lunch to haute cuisine. She would be in the kitchen all day preparing her famous veal roast, grillades, jambalaya, red bean puree or pineapple upside down cake.

My personal cooking experiences included a 2 year rotation through the kitchen “stages” as commis de chef or apprentice in saucier, pâtisserie, garde manger, sauté and lunch sous chef at La Chaudiere, a traditional French restaurant in North Carolina. It was grueling work but satisfied my soul to excite people with exquisite food created with love.

Later, my best friend Suzy and I decided to follow our chocolate dreams and started a baking business called Dark Secrets. My memories of the holiday season from Thanksgiving through Christmas during those years are filled with dozens upon dozens of flats of eggs, gallons of heavy cream, mounds of meringue, bowls overflowing with chocolate ganache and mousse and sheets of rolled genoise. I eventually moved Dark Secrets to a local cafe and coffee shop where I baked pastries and desserts. I’ll never forget those unbearably hot summer months in the kitchen when I was pregnant with my own bun in the oven, my sweet daughter Maggie.

Today,  I reside in the charming small southern town of Covington, Louisiana.

I spend much of my time at the local farmer’s market, hosting dinner parties for friends and recreating the food experiences I have  discovered from my world travels, or cooking just for the fun of it. The rest of the time, you can find me tending my garden with my sweet dachshund Opie.

I grew up learning the recipes and rituals you will find here  in the kitchens of my mother, grandmothers, aunts and family friends. Food is for celebrating and sharing. I love cooking together with friends, gathering around the table, and passing on the joy of cooking to others especially my daughter, Maggie.