Each new issue of Where Women Cook magazine in 2012 will feature 2 or 3 artists from They Draw & Cook! In this current issue, Salli interviewed TDAC Superstars Monika Roe and Koosje Koene and included 1 full-size recipe from each of them. Read on to learn more about these ultra-talented ladies and see pics from the magazine. Click here to order your own subscription to Where Women Cook .
Here is Monika's story: Illustration and cooking are both things that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. The difference is that when I was a child, illustration was simply “drawing,” and cooking was more along the lines of messy experimentation than a demonstration of culinary talent.
My first successful food illustration was for a national contest held by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes when I was a little girl. My mom gave me some paper and crayons and told me to draw a picture of Tony the Tiger. I set up my “studio” in the grass of our backyard and got to work. My drawing featured Tony eating his breakfast on a table in the forest. The legs of the table were made of growing trees, so he was miles up in the sky as he ate and looked down over his domain. I’m not sure if I even realized that it was for a contest, but soon we received word that I had won! First prize was a brand new bike. I had that bike for many years; it symbolized my early lesson as an artist that something wonderful can happen when you mix the subject of food with the right creative concept!
Cooking didn’t really become a passion until my grandma passed away. Every Christmas Eve she would make a traditional Danish dessert called Risalamande; it’s rice pudding folded with whipped cream and a single almond is tucked into the mixture. My grandma made it her own by serving it with a strawberry sauce instead of the traditional cherry sauce. She passed away right before Christmas, so that year I decided to make it in her honor even though she didn’t leave a recipe to follow.
Figuring out the recipe was a labor of love. I like to think that she was there guiding me through it. Every year when I make this dessert, the measuring, stirring, simmering, and familiar smells bring my grandma back to me. I know she would be proud that I am carrying on her tradition because she always cooked for us with love, and that’s the part of cooking that has become so addicting for me.
I’m very detail oriented and when I cook, and I like to know where I’m going — what the dish will look and taste like when I’m done. When illustrating a recipe, it doesn’t always work like that. Many times an idea will pop into my head and all I have to do is put it to paper. But sometimes, like with this Lemon Tart illustration, I just start with a color palette in mind and everything works itself out as I draw.
Most of my recipe illustrations are favorites that I’ve made over and over again for friends and family. If I can delight them with the tastes of the recipe, I hope I can delight you with the illustration of it and inspire you to make it for someone special in your life. With love of course!
Here is Koosje's story: I am a cook and illustrator living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Cooking and art are in my blood. Both of my grandfathers were very creative men: one of them was a professional painter and artist; the other was a professional architect and a great artist as well. Before my dad retired, he was a food photographer. My mum has always been a very happy and wonderful home cook, and after years of helping with photography productions she became a freelance photographer and food stylist.
I have always loved food and cooking. I eat out a lot, but I love to organize dinner parties as well, and I mostly enjoy healthy home cooked meals. When I travel, I am very interested in the food and traditions of the country. I took several cooking lessons in Thailand to understand more of the basics, the tastes, and the dishes.
I have a degree in graphic design, and I worked as a freelance photographer for almost ten years. I got itchy and needed to draw and paint more, so I decided to quit doing commissioned work. The work just didn’t make me happy anymore — instead of doing what I loved, I was trying to live up to the expectations of art directors and publishers.
I started working as a chef in a restaurant in Amsterdam. It was tough, tiring, stressful work, but I loved working with food! I learned a lot in those years, and I was even given the opportunity to start my own restaurant inside a store. I was already deep into organizing and selecting kitchen furniture when the owner and I couldn’t agree on the contract. It was very disappointing, but I followed my heart and didn’t go through with it — and I am very glad I didn’t, because a year later the store closed down.
I got back into part-time work, this time in an office (I like to call it Cubicle Land). It pays the bills and buys me the freedom to fill the rest of my weekdays doing what I love — creating (drawing, cooking, painting, photography, graphic design and even knitting). I spend time creating many illustrated recipes and hope to publish my own cookbook. They Draw and Cook enlightened me! Why have I never thought of combining the two things I love most?
Making a living out of my hobbies is still a habit. Every now and then I cater for small parties and make homemade treats for special occasions. My chocolate brownies (a secret recipe, but I will say that they have chunks of white chocolate in them!) are nicknamed Lady Killers, and I’m proud of it!