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After the excitement of baking for a bridal shower at the beginning of May, I could not have possibly imagined what was to happen next. I was barely over the high of baking (and being paid for it) when I had what I consider to be an opportunity of a lifetime.

I had lunch with Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie is the author of many incredible cookbooks including Baking with Julia, Paris Sweets and the recently pubished Baking: From My Home to Yours. In April, Dorie was awarded the James Beard Foundation award in the Baking and Dessert category, and deservedly so.

Dorie was in Toronto for the Santé: The Bloor-Yorkville Wine Festival. As soon as Dorie e-mailed me to let me know that she’d be in town, I knew I had to make time to meet with her.

After a few e-mails, we agreed to meet at the Avenue bar and lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel for lunch. I arrived early and chose a table by the window. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I fidgeted in the chair and kept fussing with my top. I looked at the menu. I looked outside. I tried to imagine what it would be like saying hello to Dorie.

And then there she was. And the very first thing she did was give me a huge hug. Within seconds, I felt like I’d known Dorie forever. She is as sweet and charming in person as she is in her cookbooks.

Over the course of almost two hours, we talked about everything from living in Paris to creating recipes. With a wonderful sense of humour, Dorie imparted so much wonderful advice and encouragement. I told her about the Daring Bakers and how much baking meant to me.

I find myself at a point in my baking where I’m trying to figure out how to create recipes of my own, but I don’t want to fail. Dorie very wisely pointed out that it’s okay to try something and chuck it if it doesn’t work out. It was a liberating piece of advice! I was amazed by Dorie. Her energy and her presence were infectious.

Best of all, Dorie signed my copy of Paris Sweets, a book that I hold most dear!

But before I knew it, I had to return to work. I would have loved to have spent the rest of the afternoon with Dorie and walked over to The Cookbook Store. Gracious as ever, Dorie sent me on my way with another hug and a smile.

As I made my way back to work, I could hardly believe that I’d just had lunch with Dorie Greenspan. When I got back to work, a number of my colleagues were eagerly awaiting the details as I’d told them about the lunch. I got to relive it all and it was no less exciting and unbelievable.

In the days that followed, as I reflected on Dorie’s words, I had this overwhelming urge to bake for her. That may sound silly, but baking is the best way I know to share my appreciation. I have a little theory that we bakers share a generosity gene and I think Dorie proves that. Her selflessness, her willingness to share what she knows and give advice, I think it’s all because of that little bit of baking DNA!

For Dorie, I decided to bake one of my most favourite little treats. They’re called Pasticcioni (plump pastries) and are from Viana La Place’s dear, sweet cookbook, La Bella Cucina. They’re plump little cakes filled with a dollop of pastry cream and baked. While the original recipe advises to eat them while warm or the day that they’re baked, I actually like them if they’re a few days old. They’re lovely dipped in espresso and then bitten into to find the pastry secret inside. Sometimes, I also like to tuck a perfect blueberry or raspberry inside each one as a little treat.

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Dorie, these are for you!

Ciao!

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