As a newlywed just starting married life in California with husband George Hodgin, a former Navy SEAL, Caroline Chambers ’07 took the lead as primary cook for family meals. But when the couple relocated to Palo Alto and Caroline began focusing on full-time work at a culinary consulting firm, the less experienced George was thrown into the deep end of cooking. After searching for a cookbook that would provide George with easy recipes for two eaters, Caroline was disappointed that she couldn’t find something approachable and comprehensive. So she got to work creating it herself.
“I decided to write a cookbook for all newlyweds, filled with everything from stick-to-your-bones classics like Beer Braised Pot Roast to new favorites like Sesame-Soy Poke Bowls,” she says. “Just Married was written and designed to be inviting and instructional for every type of newlywed.”
The book features over 120 recipes, including family classics such as George's mother's pound cake and Caroline’s mother’s mac and cheese. She also included recipes that the couple has collected from friends, such as "Coronado Cookies" and Lawrenceville classmate Grace Bunn’s ’07 go-to dinner party favorite, Red Curry Mussels.
Chambers also included favorite recipes that the couple has crafted together inspired by their southern roots and global travels, such as Harissa Braised Short Ribs and Korean Sliced Beef. In addition to recipes, the book features tips on seasoning, slicing and food prep, as well as how to put your individual spin on recipes.
A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Chambers grew up cooking family meals once or twice a week. She says the experience taught her both fundamental cooking skills and the importance of gathering family around the dinner table. She and George met as undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she worked in advertising in New York City before relocating to California with George.
“I had always wanted to work in food, but couldn't quite figure out the right career path. George encouraged me to take a leap of faith and open Cucina Coronado, the catering company I operated for the two years we lived in San Diego,” she says. “I learned more than I thought possible about food and the service industry, and that experience opened up countless doors in the food world, eventually leading to a cookbook deal.”
Chambers credits her experience at Lawrenceville with giving her the confidence necessary to quit her corporate job and open her own catering company, then strike out as a freelance recipe developer for magazines and brands, and eventually draft the cookbook proposal that has become Just Married.
“At age 14, I was held responsible for completing my homework with no parents looking over my shoulder,” she says of Lawrenceville. “I was responsible for getting to sports practices on time, and for managing my time effectively to accomplish everything required of a young Lawrentian. I was also responsible for feeding myself healthy, nutritious foods that would fuel my busy days. Such a large amount of responsibility at such a young age gave me a sense of empowerment, confidence, and an ‘I can do anything’ mentality that I've carried with me throughout my life.”
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