People often remark that my going from fashion model to personal chef was an odd choice. Not really. You try living on 3 lettuce leaves a day and various stimulants and see where that gets you…a seat in an AA meeting feeling very, very hungry! Just for the record, I will be 11 years sober Sunday.

Julie Anne Rhodes in the Jessica Rabbit Dress

First off: I am not a classicaly trained chef. While other kids were out climbing trees, I had “concoction days” in my mother’s kitchen…you could say I have over 40 years experience cooking. Needless to say I have vastly improved since the days of presenting my father with smashed Oreo cookies mixed with lunch meat. The poor man gagged it down, all the while pretending it was the best thing he ever ate. That made the look of pride on his face when I won “Best Poultry Burger in America” on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown all the more rewarding.

I was born into a retailing family, so fashion has always played a large role in my life. I grew up with Halston and Bill Blass staying in our house while they did trunk shows at the Younker Brothers stores. I idolized their glamorous models, and dreamed of being just like them one day. Modeling was no hardship…I loved strutting the runways of Versace and Alaia, and shooting with legendary photographers like Peter Beard, Matthew Rolston, and Norman Parkinson. In fact many of my friends and clients still are in the fashion industry.

Jewels with her parents

Fortunately my culinary talents became more refined as I was exposed to a multitude of international cuisines while modeling, touring with Duran Duran, and eating in many of the world’s top restaurants…but I couldn’t wait to get home to my own kitchen and recreate some of my favorites. Believe me, as a foodie with a career that depended upon keeping my weight rediculously low, every meal (few and far between) was savored.

Lets face it…models have a limited shelf life. After moving back to the United Sates in 1998, a chronic illness left me housebound for several years. With little else to occupy my time, I watched Food Network nonstop, and invited friends over for dinner often. Cooking was once again at the forefront of my creative passions, and that is how The Roving Stove was born in 2002. Gone were the days of 3 lettuce leaves. Instead I am whipping up 5 square meals a week for my time-starved clients to enjoy during the week. I found a career that truly satiates me.

Jewels Turkey-Jasmine Burger

My Award-Winning “Jewels” Turkey Jasmine Burger

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
Cucumber salad

1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced rounds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Burger:

 

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup steamed jasmine rice
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 Thai chili or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 sesame hamburger buns

Wasabi mayonnaise:

 

1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or store-bought
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon peel

Directions:

Cucumber salad:


1). Toss cucumbers, onions, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Burger:

2). Mix ground turkey, rice, panko, green onions, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, Thai chile, and sugar very well. 3). Make into 4 patties. Season with salt and pepper.

4). Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute burgers until cooked through, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side (depending on how thick you make them).

Wasabi mayonnaise:

5). While burgers are cooking, toast buns, and mix mayonnaise, with wasabi powder, ginger, and lemon peel in a small bowl.

To assemble:

6). Drain cucumber salad well.

7). Smear 1 tablespoon wasabi mayonnaise on toasted bun halves, spread with a layer of drained cucumber salad, then top with burger and cover with bun top.

Click here to see recipe ratings on FoodNetwork.com.

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