Note the gallon-sized Crisco at stove right.

Note the gallon-sized Crisco at stove right.

Rachel is Editor-in-Chief at Pen + Knife. Not known to be overly talkative or extroverted, she prefers to get lost in the kitchen and deeply believes the work of a good editor reveals itself in the accomplishments of others. You’re welcome.

The oldest of seven kids, she discovered early on that cooking for a crowd is much better than washing dishes for a crowd. (Serious chores were a given in a poor family that needed every individual to kick in with all their effort to keep things afloat and ends meeting ends.)  At age 7, when her reading skills allowed her to mostly comprehend the 1972 version of the Betty Crocker “Red Pie” Cookbook, Rachel found herself dazzling her family with such special-occasion hits as Classic Beef Stroganoff, Sassy Sloppy Joes and Turned-Out Meat Loaf. (There were also some disasters involving jello molds, over-seasoned potato wedges and Hellmann’s mayonnaise being used in vegetable preparations where it shouldn’t have been.) Most of the time though, the family subsided on a steady diet of dried pinto beans, hand-rolled flour tortillas (sometimes with bacon grease, more often with Crisco shortening), and fresh salsa made from the over-ripe and bruised tomatoes the farmers were happy to fire sell at the flea market. Her dad regularly stashed the finished burritos, rolled Cheech & Chong tight, on the engine block as he drove about town so they were always ready. That’s how significantly the bean burrito stands in her food history. It's also how significantly food - and cooking - centered in her life growing up.  

To pay her way through high school and college, Rachel washed dishes, slung beers and waited tables. It didn’t take her long to realize that educating herself about wine (thanks in no small part to Red Wine for Dummies 1996 edition) meant she could get larger checks, and therefore, larger tips. Broke as hell all the time and unable to eat in the restaurants where she toiled, she regularly cooked at home and found a meal shared always tasted better than a meal consumed alone and that wine is the elixir of life.

Not one to be overly critical, she does strongly believe that the best restaurants are the ones that love their guests best. She can taste when that love is put into the food, and may call a bitch out when it isn't.