Allrecipes’ What’s Cooking event had to serve food, and Chef Karen Binkhorst delivered. A catering chef with a loyal following in Seattle, Chef Karen knows the Allrecipes staff well. She’s catered a few events for them, and this time, she mixed up her recipes with a few Allrecipes’ cooks recipes to show just how good the recipes are.

Chef Karen literally ran away from home and was kicked into culinary school by the inspiration of someone who could see that she had true talent. The food that told her she could cook: hummus. Homemade hummus. It was as if she had “died and gone to heaven at the first bite,” she said, with a nostalgic roll of her eyes.

So from culinary school, she worked in hotels, clubs, and catered huge events. She set herself a goal: be the head chef or own her own restaurant before her 35th birthday. Just months before her 35th birthday, she became the executive chef at a high end club in Seattle. Why Seattle? It was on the way to Alaska, where she thought she wanted to go. But, lucky for us, she fell in love with the city and has stayed.

Chef Karen quickly found out it wasn’t for her. The bottom line for that business was money, and that superseded decisions she wanted to make. So, she started her own business, Home Meals with Karen. She’s been catering for fifteen years and is continually building her business.

Since I am aiming at being a chef, I asked her some practical questions. Some of her chef advice:

You don’t know what you want until you know want you don’t want.
Do your dream job. You might find that it’s not actually your dream.
Don’t accept lower standards because you’re a woman chef. Hold high standards.
Keep on plugging away.

Chef Karen is not a shy woman, and she knows her food. The snickerdoodle crusted peach cobbler was her dessert contribution, and by the time I finished our interview, there wasn’t much cobbler left to sample. The crumble I had was scrumptious — sweet, firm cookie atop a tart-sweet peach slice. Can’t complain about that. I wonder if I could crash her other catering events.