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updated: 1/15/2013 1:33 PM

Cook of the Week: Mother/son duo dynamic in the kitchen

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  • Andrew Ledet and his mom, Diane Ledet, have learned to work together in their small Elk Grove Village kitchen.

       Andrew Ledet and his mom, Diane Ledet, have learned to work together in their small Elk Grove Village kitchen.
    photos by Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Andrew Ledet chops celery for his mom's red beans and rice.

       Andrew Ledet chops celery for his mom's red beans and rice.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Andrew Ledet of Elk Grove Village hold up his mom's red beans and rice.

       Andrew Ledet of Elk Grove Village hold up his mom's red beans and rice.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Andrew Ledet's Red Beans, Rice

 
By Sally Eyre
Daily Herald Correspondent

Andrew Ledet doesn't remember a time when he wasn't helping his mother cook.

"I didn't come out of the womb cooking, so it hasn't been my whole life," he laughs.

"He used to fix his own formula," his mother Diane quips.

This mother/son duo often teams up in the kitchen with their combination of humorous and creative energy.

"I grew up in a family of eight kids, where everyone had their assigned duties," explains Diane. Despite this, when Diane left home she had to teach herself how to cook.

"I remember the first time I had people over, I agonized over how to get all the food on the table at the same time. It was like doing higher math," she says. "I didn't want my kids to have that same experience. I wanted them to know how to feed themselves. It's important -- you've got to eat."

Andrew recalls waking up Sunday mornings when he was younger to the smell of onions, garlic and sausage sizzling.

"That's a fragrance that will get most people out of bed. I'd wander into the kitchen and pitch in," he says.

Diane and Andrew often collaborate in the kitchen, although they rarely use recipes.

"I tend to watch a cooking show and then try to emulate what they do," Andrew says.

"I've been cooking so long that sometimes I don't need a recipe," adds Diane, "unless I go senior on myself and have to double check."

The greatest challenge they face however is the small size of their kitchen.

"We're like the Two Stooges in here, bumping into each other all the time!" said Diane. For their video, Diane jokes that they considered using mirrors to make the kitchen look bigger.

"It's so small that we never walk and carry a knife," she laughs, "but you make things work."

In college, Andrew would cook for friends, whether in his home or in theirs. He's often asked for cooking advice, so often in fact, that he decided to start a blog. Bachelorbasics.wordpress.com is a humorous cooking advice blog aimed at those on-their-own young people who are clueless in the kitchen.

"I tend to take my show on the road. It's an elaborate song and dance routine."

"He takes all of my serving dishes and they don't all come back," his mother complains.

"It's a challenge to cook in someone else's kitchen. Sometimes there's an electric stove or 'what do you mean you only have two pots?'"

Today, the team shares New Orleans Red Beans and Rice, a spicy marinated chicken and Thanksgiving-inspired muffins.

"I lived in New Orleans for five years," says Diane. "In New Orleans, Mondays were wash days, so the women made red beans and rice because it cooks a long time." This is a family favorite that often draws her daughter, who lives on her own, back home for dinner as well.

"There's nothing like a meal with so much bulk in it to question your life choices as you lay on the couch!' quips Andrew about the healthy dish.

To Diane, cooking with her family and sharing meals together is essential.

"That's how you preserve family and memory" she shrugs.

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to food@dailyherald.com.

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