Culinary values are passed down from generation to generation, and it is to my family and relatives to which that debt is owed.
I had what I thought was an ordinary childhood. What I realize in midlife is that my childhood was nothing less than extraordinarily blessed. As a result of my father being stationed in Heidelberg, Germany in the early 1970’s, most of my childhood memories involve travel throughout Europe. This was before I could even read and write. Perhaps that is why the memories are even more sharply etched in my mind, not in the sense of the knowledge of where I was and the location's historical significance, but in the sense of impact - how those memories make me who I am today, their emotional content and beauty, things perhaps to which the innocence of a child's mind are much more receptive. These memories are unclouded with facts and figures, and were formed before I was even aware of the existence of evil in the world.
They come to me now in images of magnificent German castles, Oktoberfest - sitting high upon my father's shoulders so that I could see the Bavarian dancers, and lebkuchen gingerbread hearts - hanging from the stalls of the brilliantly lit German Christmas Markets. I see the French outdoor cafés in the summer time, and festive family dinners with the security of a loving mother and father and relatives - who seemed to gather for the sole purpose of filling my life with joy, love and laughter.
I believe food is so much more than something to maintain life when it is received in such an environment – it becomes a part of how we live life, what we love in life and who we love in life. It is my vision as a pastry chef today to bring back memories and time-honored family traditions, culinary traditions that are our birthright whether we had opportunity to experience them and learn them ourselves, or whether they were lost somehow in transit to the American way of life. Unwavering allegiance to and respect for authentic European foundational recipes, hand craftsmanship, artistry, atmosphere and presentation enables me to create pastries that can bring my customer back to places they've traveled or transport them to those places they've never been, whether they be the sophisticated excellence and beauty of a Paris café or the unexcelled warmth and familiarity of their grandmother's kitchen. My own grandmother had been a shepherdess as a young girl in Poland, and it was my mother who taught me how to bake, but it was my father, of French/German/English heritage and gone now from this world for five years, that I feel compelled at this time to credit for teaching me about hospitality. He specialized in making everybody feel welcome and joyful, and it was because of him we traveled throughout Europe. Stories were told during meals (and enhanced with each retelling) wine glasses were refilled for the adult guests, and children were always welcomed, included and loved. I knew, instinctively, even when very small , that the reason why fathers sometimes had to go off to war was to preserve the freedom to live the kind of life that my family was blessed to live. The war was over, the feasting had begun.
May your war be over.
May your sorrows disappear,
May what is good, pure and beautiful in your life
And let the stories begin
This website is dedicated to my father, John J Troxler
March 3, 1934 – December 18, 2006