“You know, not every trans woman is a perv, slinging around a pole and butt-clapping,” says Ceyenne Doroshow, elegant lady chef and author of the new memoir cookbook Cooking in Heels, set to be released this August. “I’m happy being who I am. I have a full life. At the pantry where I volunteer, I hand out condoms to senior citizens. On the 19th of May I’m trying to get a mobile testing unit there for World AIDS Day. I do a lot.”
Doroshow, a trans woman, activist, educator, and, of course, chef, has always been an avid lover of all things culinary. She’s also keen on storytelling and the intersection of cooking and healing. “If it wasn’t for the kitchen, I don’t know where I’d be today.”
She took some time to speak to PrettyQueer contributor Katie Liederman about glamour, mentorship, pig parts, and her new book.
Katie Liederman: What’s the most glamorous outfit you have ever cooked in?
Ceyenne Doroshow: I once cooked in a Dolce and Gabbana wrap gown. When you walk in it, your leg comes out. It looks like Morticia Adams’ gown– basic black. All you need are earrings – not even a necklace. I made tempura in it.
PQ: How do you cook in those nails?
CD: Well, normally my nails aren’t that long. I wore them that long for the video we taped for our kickstarter. But I’ve been cooking for so long. I can burn myself and keep going. I can cook anywhere in nails– even at a fireside by a campsite. I get so much enjoyment out of cooking. Even if I’m upset, I can just tune out everybody and hum.
PQ: Why did you name your book “Cooking in Heels?”
CD: I’m a shoe person. I love Aldo, and Jessica Simpson makes practical and good and strong shoes. I think DSW should be 24 hours. They should have coffee and donuts and be open all day and all night.
PQ: Why do you love to cook?
CD: The thing is, you bring people together with food– I’ll go to Chinatown and spend $100 on seafood, a friend will bring some pies over– we’ll just talk about all of our problems, and eat and eat, and go to sleep, and then get up and eat some more. If I was ever gonna have a weight problem, then it hasn’t hit me yet, because I eat all the time. I love to eat.
The kitchen is a place where it’s easy to get to the core of conversations that would have never happened otherwise. It’s an open door, a comfortable place to get out hidden stuff. I have lots of stories connected to food and different episodes of my life.When I was a child, I would cook, and my brother would set the table. My Grandpa worked at Copacabana, and sometimes I’d cook with him and get tips. My babysitters were Spanish and I grew up in a Spanish neighborhood in Brooklyn, so I learned how to make tostones. I started frying stuff at 7 or 8 years old. Chicken, everything.There are a lot of secrets in my family. I was not allowed to be around my gay uncle until I was an adult, because he was a proud gay man. He had a hidden room in his house, which held his gowns, his dresses, really beautiful stuff. Mink coats. He was a well-known guy in Washington, so he kept that stuff hidden. He was also a chef.
PQ: What’s your favorite food?
CD: I eat everything except coconut. Also, I won’t eat borscht soup. My go-to recipe is Spanish rice and beans. I can make it with my eyes closed. I like making homemade pizza, comfort foods. West indian roti, made with a chickpea wrap– inside you put curry chicken and carrots and potatoes.
PQ: Did you get any of the recipes for your cookbook from your family?
CD: Oh yes. From my Grandmother. I have her recipes for yeast buns, and for duck bread. Duck bread is this West Indian bread that’s kind of dense and sweet. You put Brickstone butter on it and serve it with soup. There’s also a lemon cookie recipe of hers in there. There are a lot of recipes. She was a good cook.
PQ: What’s the story behind the recipe in your book called “Ty’s Pig Pot?”
CD: I have a friend who would put all different sorts of pig parts in a pot before he left the house– feet, tail, pork shoulder. He’d put it in a big pot with carrot, onion, hot oil, thyme and rosemary in a pressure cooker and cook it for several hours. I used to never eat pork, but after a few cocktails one night, I decided I would taste it, and I liked it!
PQ: What advice do you have for young girls, in and out of the kitchen?
CD: With mentoring, I tell my clients, “Before you go into the world and buy stuff, be careful. You don’t know what you’re getting on the streets. Some of them were buy valves of oil, thinking they were buying hormones. Shooting silicone in people’s living rooms. I tell them, if you want to succeed then be the best you can be. Get all the tools you need. Go to school– no matter what. Be a better you, and be a lady. Know when you put on your clothes and shoes, you’re going out into the world as a lady. Have enough pride to work to get an education. Fight through it.” The best thing you can have is knowledge. I don’t want to see more young girls lose their lives– murdered in the streets– and their parents still don’t even know.
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