A Tale of Two Chefs: Alberta Couple Discovers a Passion for Gourmet
Imagine you're married (or maybe you don't have to imagine). You and your spouse both work demanding managerial jobs during the day, and then in the evening you come home to two daughters whom you love dearly, and who take up just about all your remaining time and energy---which of course you give willingly. Now imagine those daughters move out and get married. Suddenly, those hectic days of meetings, decisions, emails, and so forth now give way to luxurious free evenings. What to do? For George and Heidi Balogh, the answer was an impressive culinary enterprise.
We found this story when we stumbled across George's post of a Master Indian Spice chicken curry served with slaw and some gorgeous-looking roasted veggies. When we saw how many jaw-droppingly good food photos were on his account, we got curious and talked to George last month.
“It all started with a subscription to one of those popular meal kit services. Everything is provided in pre-measured quantities and all you do is follow the instructions to create your fresh meals like a professional. The appeal was fresh, healthy, delicious food that is relatively simple to make, delivered right to your door. No making lists, no shopping, just some assembly required.”
These aspects of cooking from delivery meal boxes - the convenience, the guided, simplified process - allowed George Balogh to develop a passion for cooking gourmet cuisine. He started out simple: following cooking kit instructions, and then began to develop a natural proficiency for fancy cooking.
"I felt that I had mastered most of the process – which oddly left me wanting to push the boundaries even more, as I am not one to always colour inside the lines. Because I really couldn’t mess up, my confidence was elevated and creativity crept in. It started with substituting main ingredients, changing spices, ad-libbing with leftovers, using the internet to seek out options.
"Soon it reached the point where I was no longer following instructions (men rarely do?) ... Now I was researching recipe ideas online, adding my own twists, making lists, shopping for the best ingredients, and I had become obsessed with mis en place."
The result of this obsession with preparing the workspace for cooking, and for the beauty of a well-plated gourmet entrée or dessert has resulted in what amounts to a stunning culinary photo journal on instagram in two accounts, George's (baloghbackyard) and Heidi's (regalsapphire).
Now, it may be that people take pictures of their food all the time and post the result on instagram, but there's a difference between snapping photos of your supper, and journalling the evolution of a unique gourmet repertoire.
What you find on these accounts are image after image of lovingly-crafted meals so beautiful that you want to eat them, and learn how to make them: like this mouthwatering personal pan cinnamon bun - baked by Heidi (for George while he was out shopping) - which could easily headline a restaurant dessert menu.
As this cooking story has unfolded, the pair have each found their own culinary niche.
“I once read somewhere that 'baking is a science, but cooking is an art'. This resonated true for me, and explains why I bake very little because it feels too precise ... but my wife is an extraordinary baker.
Since Covid-19 has put a stop to some things, George and particularly Heidi have been able to focus much more attention on their passion for cooking. "Heidi is working on a food blog with our youngest daughter, focusing on simple to make comfort foods that look and taste amazing, many with gluten-free and sometimes plant-based options."
Well, once their food blog is up, Master Indian Spice will be visiting, and opting into the annoying email pop-up, if there is one. We'll also be shopping for a couple of those tiny cast-iron skillets, because that personal pan cinnamon bun... well you saw it.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing a recipe or two from George in our own culinary blog. For now, we'll wait with anticipation for their blog to launch, and be proud that George and Heidi Balogh are Master Indian's customers.
"So what started as a fool proof way to ensure I was cooking healthy food, evolved into a passion for preparing delicious culinary creations that smell, taste, and look fabulous. And for me it’s about the journey not just the destination. Yes, I love eating. But I really enjoy cracking a bottle of wine and spending hours in the kitchen with my wife building the next masterpiece."