Getting Kooky in the Kitchen with Clare Crespo
The first words out of Clare Crespo’s mouth when we got on the phone were, “well, you know I’m a crazy person.” Now fortunately I had seen some of Clare’s cooking videos and had already gathered she was not your average chef. Her whimsical recipes and playful behavior in the kitchen isn’t exactly conventional. But after talking with her more I realized that yes maybe she is a little crazy, anyone who names snacks after monkeys has to be, but I also realized she may be a little genius.
Clare Crespo is a culinary artist with very unique approach to cooking. This summer Clare teamed up with Breyers to inspire families to get creative in the kitchen and invented fun ice cream creations to make with your kids. She is also creator of the “Yummyfun Kooking Series” and author of two cookbooks, "Hey There, Cupcake!" and "The Secret Life of Food”. From her “monster mash potatoes” to her “patriotic posies”, she is by far one of the most interesting chefs I’ve ever met.
Meredith Gonsalves: So Clare, how did you get started cooking? Was it something you always saw yourself doing?
Clare Crespo: Well I’ve always been silly, and was always playing with my food as a kid. If you look at pictures of me when I was young, it’s like there I am making very elaborate mud pies in the back yard, or with spirals in my eyes looking at a cupcake. It’s always been a part of me. My cooking style is part art project, part simple recipes.
Meredith: So then working with an ice cream company is perfect for you! How did your recent partnership with Breyers come about?
Clare: It feels so natural to have found each other. Their message is really my message, and that is to get families together, to find those moments, and make those memories. So using their classic vanilla ice cream as an art supply to create ice cream creations you can make as a family, is really a dream come true.
Meredith: It also sounds delicious! What’s your favorite ice cream creation thus far?
Clare: Well, I have to say it’s probably the Mint Chocolate Chimps.
Meredith: Chimp? As in monkey?
Clare: (laughs) Yes. It’s my take on the classic mint chocolate chip. You make little ears out of cookies, and use candy to experiment with different faces and give them personalities. I really like to give people the freedom to put their own spin on these things. Often times it’s not going to come out looking just like mine, but that’s OK!
Meredith: I have to ask, where do you draw inspiration for these creations or any of your other recipes?
Clare: Literally once the brainstorming process has started, I can’t stop. I have been bombarding Breyers with ideas ever since we started working together! I’ve been dreaming about ice cream for months. Really, though I incorporate things that I love into my cooking and I encourage everyone to do the same. I love monkeys, so that inspired the Mint Chocolate Chimp, but maybe you like lions so go ahead and try that.
Meredith: You obviously have a lot of fun in the kitchen! Can you talk a little bit about what you consider to be your cooking philosophy?
Clare: The thing that really drives me to do what I do is that feeling that I may be able to inspire someone to express themselves through cooking. It’s empowering to learn how to cook, and to show the world who you are.
Here are some of our favorite recipes from Clare. Parent be warned, Clare encourages playing with your food!
For more on Clare Crespo and her collection of recipes visit YummyFun.com.