Culinary Advice from MasterChef and Urban Gardener, Stephen Lee [Interview]

I recently had the opportunity to interview MasterChef contestant and Urban Gardener Stephen Lee about his culinary advice, inspiration for recipes and thoughts on growing your own food. See below for his thoughts.

Stephen: How would you define an ‘Urban Gardener?’
Aquaberry Bliss:
The idea behind the ‘Urban Gardener’ -also referred to as urban farming- is repurposing the urban landscape with the intention of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around the village, town, or city. The individual participating in the urban farming movement is sometimes referred to as ‘Locavore.”

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Do you remember the first dish you ever cooked by yourself?
I remember cooking steak and green beans often as a young child.

Can you tell us more about your sustainable food mission?
‘Every person has the right to eat well’- this is the foundation of my sustainable food mission. I want to inspire as many people as possible that eating locally sourced foods is a better choice for all concerned.

What is the one plant you think everyone should be growing at home?
The one plant that everyone should be growing at home is your favorite one. The big deal for me is sowing the seed and then watching it grow. It’s miraculous to think how much can come from such a tiny seed. So much value and nutrition can come from something so small. My favorite plant right now is Tennessee coneflower. It’s very pretty with lots of health benefits.

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What is your favorite herb or spice?
The recent discovery of Grains of Paradise has been my favorite spice- also referred to as Alligator pepper. Its flavor is reminiscent to that of Cardamom and Coriander.

If you only have 30 minutes to make dinner, what’s your favorite quick dish to make?
My lady’s favorite 30 minute dish is Chicken Milanese with sauté’ garden vegetables and garlic roasted Fingerling potatoes tossed with fresh parsley and lemon zest before plating. And since it is her favorite then it’s my favorite. ‘Cause when she is happy I am happy.

Food can be comforting and brings people together. What food dish evokes your favorite memories?
While stewarding a land trust and living in community in Washington (state), I came to love our harvest parties. The best harvest was usually in late September or October. We would mark the ending of the summer season with a great feast in the sunroom. After dinner we would build a big bon fire, play instruments, and sing with the kids dancing and laughing. There was also roasting marshmallows.

Do you eat dessert first or after a meal?
I can eat dessert anytime- pie for breakfast is great. When I want to cause a little trouble it is always fun to eat dessert before a meal. I think there are to many rules about eating food. Food should be fun.

Favorite culinary advice to give to amateur Urban Gardeners:
The best advice I received are, ‘The 5 P’s’: Proper, Planning, Prevents, Poor, Procedure. Every time I begin a new project I keep this idea in mind.

Catch Stephen Lee on MasterChef this season!

Photo CreditGreg Gayne / FOX. © 2015 FOX Broadcasting, Mechanoid Dolly, Michael Hodge

PrintBy Elizabeth Adan

Elizabeth Adan is a Freelance Writer, Publicist and Explorer. Aquaberry Bliss is a unique outdoor lifestyle site dedicated to expanding your world and inspiring your creativity. When Elizabeth isn’t traveling, you’ll find her writing, hiking or gardening. Find Elizabeth on Twitter @stillaporcupine and on LinkedIn.

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