Today we're happy to introduce the latest addition to our editorial team, Sheela Prakash! Sheela comes to The Kitchn after working for Epicurious, where she was an editorial assistant. We're so excited to have her on the team. As an assistant food editor, you can expect her to share many smart cooking tips, new ways to use favorite ingredients, and some great recipes.
We've put a few questions together so you can get to know Sheela a little better – including the one health myth she wish would go away (oh, she's also a Registered Dietitian).
You got your master's in Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. Tell us the truth: Was this degree just an excuse to eat a lot of pasta?
I'd be lying if I didn't admit to the fact that when choosing a master's program in Italy vs. the U.S., the food most definitely came into play. I mean isn't it everyone's dream to run off to Italy for a year and eat their weight in pasta and gelato? But really, in all seriousness, I learned a whole heck of a lot, and the coolest thing about the program was being surrounded by not just the Italian food culture but that of the 16 different countries my classmates represented. It was an incredible way to deep-dive in the gastronomic world; it's most definitely an experience that continues to shape me.
You're a registered dietician. What's the one food health myth you wish would go away?
That there's still some secret to uncover when it comes to losing weight and staying healthy. Eating healthfully isn't about jumping on the latest trend — it's about moderation. Eat a varied diet (that means plenty of fruits and vegetables, but also not forgoing butter and chocolate), exercise, and most importantly, be mindful of what your body needs. Listening to it just may be the best way to stay healthy.
You have 20 minutes to make dinner. What's on the table?
Most likely risotto. After years of failure, I can now confidently say that I can make it without looking at a recipe or freaking out that I am messing something up. I love that it's a blank slate — I'll toss in honestly whatever I have around. Recently I did a version with sun-dried tomatoes and used the liquid I rehydrated the tomatoes in as the risotto cooking liquid instead of broth, and it worked great! Risotto's simple enough that I can mindlessly stir and stir it at the end of a long day, but also just enough involved that I can have fun getting creative with the add-ins, poking around the fridge and pantry for inspiration. Served alongside a green salad and a glass of wine, it's the ultimate antidote to whatever that day brought.
Favorite ingredient you're using at home right now?
I know Maldon sea salt is nothing new, but I always resisted jumping on the bandwagon along with everyone else's praise because it's not exactly cheap as far as salt goes, and the last thing I thought I needed was another little jar in my pantry. But I was trying to get free shipping on Amazon.com recently, so I just threw it in with my order, and now I am addicted like everyone else. I've been sprinkling it on everything from salads to scrambled eggs to chocolate chip cookies just before baking. The crunchy, irregularly sized flakes add little pops of salty flavor to any dish, making it that much better. And a little goes a long way, so even though it's a bit of spurge, the box is going to last me a long time.
Who do you love cooking for the most and why?
The obvious answer would be my fiancé, and that's most definitely true! But recently we've been cooking more and more together — staying in on Saturday night, coming up with a menu, turning on Spotify, and making it sort of a whole-night affair — and I may just love that even more.
I really just love cooking for anyone I can convince to come and spend an evening in my tiny apartment. The more I entertain, the more confidence I gain in the kitchen, and therefore I feel I become a better cook. I find myself crafting these dinner party ideas and menus in my mind at all times — I'm just looking for the mouths to feed!
What are you looking forward to doing as assistant editor for The Kitchn?
I am eager to dig into recipe development, which is something that's new for me and a skill I'd like to have under my belt. I am also really just looking forward to getting to know our readers and what inspires them. Getting to pass along tips, tricks, and recipes that get people excited about food and cooking is easily the best part of my job!