Expert Interview Series: Laura Luciano About Kitchen Essentials for Inspired Cooks

We asked Laura Luciano, founder of the Out East Foodie blog, how she became so passionate about food. "I grew up in an Italian family where we cooked together all the time," she says. "It was not until living...

Kitchen essentials

We asked Laura Luciano, founder of the Out East Foodie blog, how she became so passionate about food.

"I grew up in an Italian family where we cooked together all the time," she says. "It was not until living on the East End that I became hypersensitive to where my food comes from and supporting the people who grow, raise, catch and prepare a meal."

Today, Laura says she is more passionate than ever about local and global varieties of food that are in Slow Food's Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods that are grown and sustainably produced.

Here, she offers us a peek at living and eating on the East End of Long Island and also shares her favorite kitchen tools. Read on:

Tell us about Out East Foodie. When and why did you start your blog?

At a very young age, I was exposed to the bounty of Long Island; fishing and crabbing - or footing - for clams with my father Out East was, and still is, an adventure.

I grew up 100 miles west of the Hamptons and North Fork in Hawthorne, New York. My second home was in East Quogue. One of my first exposures to food and cooking was with my grandparents in their kitchen lending a hand preparing Sunday's gravy (meat sauce) and tuttaes (tortelli Piacentini), which were my grandmother's ravioli from her hometown of Piacenza, Italy.

I am a trained graphic designer. For more than 20 years, I have been bringing corporations' and people's brands and stories to life. In 2008, I started my own graphic design business out of my 400-square-foot apartment in New York City, the same space I had lived in for almost 18 years. Working at home kept me closer to my kitchen, which helped me hone in on my skills as a home cook.

That same year, my architect husband Chris and I bought a piece of land in Hampton Bays, New York. We designed a sustainable home called Sheridan Green, which has a Tier 3 ENERGY STAR rating, that was completed in the fall of 2013. The home sits between the North and South Forks of Long Island. It was important for us to be close to our food producers, as both tines make up an edible haven.

Inspired by our home and becoming a permanent member of the Out East food scene, I started my blog called Out East Foodie. This platform has allowed me to share the edible stories of the East End of Long Island not only on my blog, but also as a contributor for the What's in Season column for Edible East End Magazine that is part of 85 Edible Publications Nationwide.

I visit local farms, fisheries and artisanal food makers that span the "palette" of the Hamptons and North Fork region, and share with my readers the foods and philosophies of these local food makers.

How would you describe your culinary tastes?

Real ingredients. Flavor comes first; getting there is the journey. At times I refine certain dishes (that require a bit of technique); once it is in a place that is easy to explain, I will publish it. Good ingredients do not need a lot of fuss; and truthfully, cooking should not be fussy, but approachable, fun and healthy.

What do you love about living and eating on the East End of Long Island?

There is a revival of history on the East End of Long Island. It revisits old traditions of farm-to-table and brings neighbors to one another by supporting what makes us thrive and what makes the East End so special.

As land dwellers, we have a 360-degree view of our agricultural landscape, which is an everyday convenience to absorb what is all around us. The two forks are surrounded by water; and if you were to gaze to the bays or from the docks of Montauk, you can see what the catch of the day is.

There are values that have gathered momentum on our loamy soils and seas: "How was this tomato grown? Who raised my chicken? How was this tile fish caught and by whom?" I consider myself truly blessed and fortunate enough to have close relationships with chefs, food writers, farmers, artisans and fishermen. I know first hand how my food is prepared, sourced, grown, raised and caught. There is nothing better than that.

What are some kitchen tool basics no home cook should be without?

A hand-held immersion blender. I can't live without it.

What about some kitchen tool splurges home cooks should consider saving for?

What do you look for when shopping for kitchen essentials? What do you avoid?

Tools that are going to make my life easier, not create more clutter for my drawers or counter space. I avoid gadgets that are specifically made to cut a certain vegetable or herb.

What's your favorite go-to kitchen tool; the tool that you love because it's a workhorse, makes your life easier, or holds sentimental value - or all of the above?

My hand-held immersion blender. What I hold near and dear to my heart is my grandmother's ravioli wheel.

What's one kitchen tool you're craving right now?

A really good ice cream maker.

Connect with Laura on Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Looking for your next favorite kitchen gadget? Browse kitchenware.