Chef CHEVEN Interviews Christi Hoehn, Owner of Talk of the Table - Food & Beverage Magazine

Chef CHEVEN Interviews Christi Hoehn, Owner of Talk of the Table

Who is Christi Hoehn?

“It depends on the day, some days I feel invincible, others I feel vulnerable and weak. Thankfully the invincible days are more often and as the amazing opportunities have been coming my way, I’m all that much more driven to reach for the stars.”

Christi fought illness since she was 15, finally diagnosed at 20 with an autoimmune disease, Scleroderma. She didn’t expect to live past 26-27 but never would accept that – and here she is at 56, still proving them wrong. Because of circulatory complications, Christi lost the left leg below knee in ‘96 and the right leg below knee in 05. “For me, it was a relief, as pain was the driving force in my life.” Unfortunately, she got frostbite on both legs after being outside at a Christmas market in Germany.  “I was in my wheelchair and didn’t realize how cold my legs were, despite the many layers I was wearing as well as my prosthetics. It became too painful to wear the legs and I accepted that I’d be using the wheelchair.”

“I am not defined by the chair or my legs – but society isn’t as kind.” Says Christi. Even though Christi’s limb loss hasn’t changed who she is, as a woman everything changed. “More often than not, I’m invisible.”  My experience with Christi is that her determination and enthusiasm of life and cooking has been enhanced due to the obstacle’s life has presented. A mother of three, as well as a Grandmother of three. Christi and her bright spirit has moved a massive community that she is currently building. As a self-taught culinarian she has developed a [passion for the arts of cooking and sharing her works with her new community. Through Table Grilling (a communal cooking experience) Christi is no longer “invisible”. In fact, she is very visible not only to her peers, but to the large network of professional Chefs that are now honoring Christi for her creativity, passion and drive.

BUT THE FOOD, CHRISTI! THE FOOD! 

The food has always been a huge part of my life. I have so many fond memories of cooking with my grandmother and gardening with my grandfather. Grandma taught me how to make the perfect pie crusts, always doubling the recipe so I could roll it out, spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, roll, and slice into pinwheel “goodies” to enjoy. My grandpa’s garden was epic, we’d ride the tractor and till the soil, daily trips to tend to the ripening vegetables. They canned gallon size jars of spicy pickles – cucumbers, okra, cauliflower, tomatoes, and more. Grandpa always ordered the top-quality cheeses and meats, I was the only kid I knew that had a huge jar in the refrigerator with feta suspended in brine! He smoked meats in his hand built monstrous sized brick smoker/grill.

Growing up Jewish and eating all of those delicacies, (aside from gefilte fish!). The Manischewitz mixes a stark contrast to the from scratch cooking from my other grandparents. Noodle Kugel, Matzo ball soup, beet borscht, mandel bread, blintzes….ahh the memories!

Christi currently prepares the most unique Focaccia decorated with a mosaic of vegetables and herbs. Deliciously presented and fascinating to the eyes as the presentation moves the table talk with awe. Who needs a flower bouquet on the table when you have her Focaccia to light up the moment?

How do you think you can impact the world? 

“I hope it’s through kindness and the willingness to share my story, my cooking, and the light that permeates my being. Sitting at the table together, learning, sharing, enjoying cooking and spending time together. I believe strongly that food is a bond between us all and the more we can come together, the greater understanding we have of each other.”

In my life thus far bringing people to the table unplugged is such a message that is powerful to permeate the discomfort of shyness or unwilling to blossom. Breaking the “Focaccia” (bread) with family/friends/peers through TABLE GRILLING is the best way to open minds and remind each other how precious life can be. Through this Christi is not only recognized as a survivor, but a pioneer of hope and the endurance of Love, Food and Community.

What is your favorite dish to prepare? 

A constant crowd pleaser is my delicious cobbler. I have tweaked a recipe I found many years ago and it is, in my opinion, the best cobbler ever. I’ve now modified the recipe and make it ON THE TABLE GRILL using canning jar lids! Here’s the oven version:

Here’s a recipe I tweaked years ago that is a favorite of this house, you can use sour cherries, peaches, or nectarines for a delicious cobbler. I don’t care for super sweet desserts so the sugar has been significantly reduced.

 In a 7×11 baking dish (screw the baking dish, use a cast iron skillet) melt 1 stick of butter at 325 until sizzling (keep in oven until you’re ready to pour batter or make batter ahead)

Combine:
1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
3/4 c milk
1/2 t vanilla
cinnamon to taste (put a lot, it’s delicious)
Mix until smooth, set aside.
Combine 1 qt fruit and 1/2 cup sugar.
Pour batter into sizzling butter, mixing slightly. Pour fruit over batter and bake for 1 hour or until brown at 325. Serve warm or cooled with vanilla ice cream.

I like to put this in the oven right before we eat so that it’s hot out of the oven for dessert. https://fb.watch/4hfZZmsGwj/ <—— this is one made on the table grill!