Kathi Saks

was born outside New York City in a Jewish community. She is a private chef, culinary community educator and past president of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Hawai‘i. Food is a second career for her; she also holds a design degree and enjoys bringing her knowledge of pattern and design into the kitchen when it comes to plating and presenting her creations. She is an avid snorkeler and a member of Friends of Hanauma Bay.

Her Tūtū’s Kitchen dish, Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage, is her family’s evolution of a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish. “Over the years, my mom and I made changes to make it lighter and more flavorful—adding the carrots was her idea; the pork, to add more flavor, was mine (pork is something Jews do not eat!). This dish didn’t really make an impression on me till I was a teenager and understood food more. My brother still asks me to make it when I come to visit.”

How did you learn to cook?

I learned to cook when I was about 11 or 12. My mother hurt her back and couldn’t cook for us. She lay in bed upstairs and I would go and ask her what to do. Run down the stairs and follow her instructions. Run back up, get the next instructions, run back down. Repeat several times. Once my mother got better, I just kept on cooking—it was fun and it got me out of doing the dishes, which my brother and I always fought about. Maybe that’s why I became a chef?

Why is cooking for your family so important to you?

Food, and especially home-cooked food, brings people together in the process of making it, eating it and the memories it brings for years to come. My earliest food memory might be sitting around the big table in our kitchen every night. My mother was a great cook, and my father didn’t like to eat out very much. We were a family of five and sitting down to dinner every night together was very important.

Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage is our March 2019 Tūtū’s Kitchen dish

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