Who: April Bloomfield
What: Chef, Restaurateur, Cookbook Author (A Girl and Her Pig and A Girl and Her Greens)
Where: The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and The John Dory in New York City; San Francisco's Tosca Cafe
In 1999, when I went to work at London’s River Café, I already had a good sense of Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray because I loved their TV show The Italian Kitchen. I can be shy, but on my first day I was so enthusiastic that I went right up and introduced myself—then walked away cringing. I could tell Rose was taken aback even though she tried not to show it, but Ruthie was so warm and motherly. Her favorite thing to make was a vegetable stew from Rome called vignole. She taught me to put the sliced artichokes on the bottom because they were the densest vegetable, then to layer on the other ingredients, top them with some gorgeous prosciutto di San Daniele and cook. One day, Ruthie came into the kitchen and I gave her a bowl. “Oh my goodness, April,” she said, “you’ve served this way too hot.” But she was very sweet about it and explained that you have to serve it warm to taste the nuances of the vegetables after they’ve cooked together. She was so good at teaching. She would say, “Don’t use too many herbs.” Then she’d tell us it was one of the last things her mother-in-law said to her before she passed away: “Use more cream on your face and less herbs on your fish.” She always tells little stories like that. Anyway, I never served the vignole hot again. It inspired my artichoke soup—an ode to Ruthie. —As told to Kate Krader
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