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Meet Mary Dralle of Cookin’ With Klibs in Vista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Dralle.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For about eight years or so, I was a sous chef to Elizabeth Podsiadlo, the Opera Singing Chef of San Diego at San Diego Botanic Gardens, SDBG. In 2009, at the suggestion of Diana Goforth, SDBG, I started teaching cooking classes at SDBG’s Herb Festival. Since that time, I had been teaching monthly classes at Alta Vista Gardens of Vista, California until December, 2012. In addition to this position, I have helped the San Dieguito Heritage Museum’s Lima Bean Cookbook and Cook Off. Eight of my unique recipes, Peruvian Blue Potato Salad (2009-runner up), Incan Quinoa Lima Bean Salad (2010-winner), Xocolatl Bars (2013-winner), Lovely Lavender Cookies (2014-winner) and Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (2015-winner), Picadilly Tuna Salad with Lima Beans (2016), and Xocolatl Cake with Chocolate Glaze (2016-winner) have won their contest.

My cooking style is unique in that I offer dishes that draw from Native American dishes to flower/herb dishes to less exposed ethnic dishes all with an explanation of the science behind process. Many of my clients describe my style as one of historian, gardener, chef, and scientist. For me, it is important to understand how dishes came to be as well as the chemical reaction occurring to get it to the end process. Moreover, to unique recipes and style, one guest in each class will receive a special gift from me, a Red Plate, to establish a wonderful tradition for their families.

In addition to the cooking classes, I have developed a dry rub that has a wonderful smoky, sweet, spicy flavor called New Mexico Dry Rub. Not only is it a flavorful on its own, it comes with a recipe book detailing it uses on everything from banana splits to chicken to salad to salmon. The dry rub is sold on line and in person at the Vista Farmer’s Market Wellness Event and North San Diego (Sikes Adobe) Certified Farmers Market.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While I am a private chef for some, I love to teach cooking. Finding venues has been a challenge but when it happens, it is wonderful and we all have such a good time . . .

Cookin’ With Klibs – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As a former chemist, it is always great fun to show people the chemistry of cooking. Long before Alton Brown was known, I was working in a laboratory. Often times, we chemists would discuss the experiments we did at home. While I was a sous chef, my beloved chef did not know why you cried when you cut an onion. One day, I said something and it started a wonderful collaboration in class.

I am most proud of teaching people to eat outside the box. My favorite herb is Roses . . . from the leaves to the petals to the fruit known as hips. It is wonderful to pair roses with apples as they are cousin hypanthium fruits. They are so versatile and give a marvelous flavor to dishes from fruit compote to salads to pasta dishes to cakes. So much can be down with the queen of the garden. If a rose smell good, it tastes good.

I am a Certified Permaculture Designer and Chef . . . I help people go farm-to-table in their own yards with regenerative agriculture practices . . . There are so many ways to design to use less water, companion gardening and growing your soil. Our food starts out in the garden and comes into our homes, with some goes back into the garden as compost. It is a way to teach the circle of life!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Winning the Lima Bean Cook Off with something more that barbecued baked beans. Writing their cook book is another achievement.

The funniest moments have been in the classroom of a teacher friend of mine. Mind you, I am not paid to come in and teach the children about Navajo Fry Bread or Horno bread. The origins of fry bread are not happy but it is necessary for children to learn about our history. Horno bread is a different story in that the technology came from the Moorish invasion of Spain.

When the Spanish colonialist arrived in America, they brought wheat and the oven to bake it in. As most schools do not have an horno, baking bread in covered casserole for part of the process and removing the lid halfway through baking will produce an artisan bread that has a good brown crust with a tender inside. Along the way, I have actually built an Horno or two as part of being a permaculturist!

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Dralle

    October 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    San Diego Voyager, Thank you for the support in writing this article about my business, Cookin’ With Klibs.

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