By Casey Murphy Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas.
Although she gave up being a chef long ago, Diane Mohn has never stopped cooking for people.
With her new business, Crafts and Cuisine, she is offering demonstrations and tastes of her eclectic dishes, as well as a place to learn crafts, in a small house in the country.
"It's whimsical and fun," she said. "It's more of a hobby on steroids than a business I think."
Mrs. Mohn, 71, said her mother taught her to cook. She made her first dinner for company when she was 13.
"I think it's relaxing," she said. "When the going gets tough, I start cooking. I just lose myself in the preparation."
Mrs. Mohn worked in her parents' fine-dining restaurant in Los Angeles and became executive chef at Wells Head Cove in Oregon.
When her kids were in high school, they needed her more so she retired from the profession that had her working nights, weekends and holidays.
She started selling real estate and moved to Canton in 1993.
"It was just beautiful," she said of East Texas. The couple bought a 150-acre ranch, where they raised and butchered cattle and started an RV park. She cooked dinner for guests at Mill Creek Resort on the weekends.
In 2006, they sold the ranch and moved to Tyler. Mrs. Mohn continued catering small parties and has often cooked as a volunteer for Bethesda Health Clinic. At Crafts and Cuisine, 10 percent of all proceeds will go to the organization.
Mrs. Mohn wanted to start something cooking-related but didn't want a restaurant that required long days.
"I wanted to cook for people but not on a daily basis with all of that pressure," she said.
She and her husband bought a house not far from theirs on Farm-to-Market Road 346 and worked to fix it up so she could cook for people. Mrs. Mohn can seat 10 to 12 guests and serves generous samples of five- to six-course meals after a cooking demonstration.
Each month, she will hold an International Passport Dinner. The first, consisting of German fare April 25, was a success and had customers return for French cuisine on May 23.
French food is one of her favorites and she went to Haute Goat Creamery in Longview to buy French goat cheese for appetizers and salads she made with filet mignon, green beans and cr?me brulee.
The meal, which included tastings from every course, was $30 and patrons brought their own wine parings. The International Passport Dinner in June will feature Indian food, including buttered chicken and curried rice.
She serves two appetizers, salad, two entrees and dessert.
Mrs. Mohn began cooking German food after her husband of 32 years, Homer, told her about dishes his late mother made. She said she learned to cook other international cuisine from years of eating and traveling.
Last summer, she took a cooking class in Ecuador, so one of the dinners will feature food from there. She also will serve food from her Italian heritage, as well as Indian, Mexican and seafood.
She also is planning a Basque Luncheon, featuring food popular with sheep herders in the Pyrenees mountains, between France and Spain. She also plans to do a "farm-to-fork" dinner, using only things she can get locally; and a monthly high tea luncheon for women. Once a month, gourmet dinners will include whatever is fresh, such as seafood and prime rib.
For Mrs. Mohn, food is not all about taste.
"It's all about the art of things," she said while making tiny paper flowers on the end of skewers for appetizers. "For me, it's more about the fun of decoration than the meal. I believe if it looks fantastic, your mind is already in a preconceived fashion that it will be."
As the name suggests, Crafts and Cuisine will offer more than her cooking.
Mrs. Mohn has always been crafty. "That's why I call this culinary and all the fine arts," she said. Her pastel artworks line the walls and wood-carved toys and decorative creations by Joel Reams are for sale.
In her craft rooms, Mrs. Mohr will teach wire weaving and silversmithing. She also wants to lease space to people who will teach other crafts, such as crocheting, ceramics and painting. She plans to have other cooks come in for demonstrations.