Stanley: Artist’s return to Joliet Central a recipe for success
BY BRIAN STANLEY Life of Brianfirstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2013 10:08PM
Updated: October 16, 2013 6:46AM
Joliet Central High School has changed since Emilie Baltz was a student there.
Now there’s a bridge to walk across, and the tennis courts had chain-link fence instead of nets when she graduated in 1996.
But Baltz also wondered if “the soul” of her alma mater had changed as well. As the city has grown, have students gained from exposure to new things?
The artist and author did her part Friday with presentations to students in the food and culinary classes. Emilie has an extensive background in design, art, dance and photography, but she’s also written cookbooks.
“I was working at a design agency, and my intern and I amused ourselves by raiding the office pantry to make funny recipes,” she said. When a friend wanted a food article for his website, Emilie posted her best offerings. A book publisher called and a short time later, she produced “Junk Foodie: 51 Delicious Recipes for the Lowbrow Gourmand.”
For someone who typically works with haute cuisine, Emilie is blunt about the nutritional value of hot dogs and snack cakes but also sees value in turning a Twinkie into a Napoleon, basically by mixing it with potato chips.
“What makes food great is stimulating all your sense. Junk food does that with different textures,” she said. “Taste is not just flavor. It’s the way something feels moving from your hand to your mouth.”
And if someone combines ingredients to produce a different or unique experience, she’s delighted when it works.
“Sometimes it doesn’t. I tried granola on a salad with balsamic dressing. Do not mix granola and balsamic,” she warned.
Marie-Pierre Baltz works in the guidance office, and Joe Baltz teaches photography at Joliet Central, so it wasn’t difficult to book Emilie for the same lecture she’s given to international audiences about the power food has to “transform the lives of creators and consumers.”
Though she changed a few things for the hometown crowd.
“I didn’t dumb it down, but I really did want to be clear why I was saying what I did because I was here (as a student). What would I like to have been shown?” she said.
Emilie would only be in town for the weekend, but expected to defer to Marie-Pierre for family meals.
“She’s way better (at cooking) than I am. I’m more of an experimenter,” Emilie said.
“Everything is pre-made, but knowing her she’ll change a few things,” Marie-Pierre said.
Claudez Rodriguez, a Central graduate, attended the lecture to study another artist.
Rodriguez said that before meeting Emilie, she hadn’t thought of food as more than something to be consumed, but she welcomed a new interpretation. Her lecturer responded by asking to see more of her own work.
“When you feed others, they will feed you back,” Emilie said.