My name is Maggie O’Toole and I am a culinary teacher in Denver and owner of Foodfest, a cooking school focused on teaching children, teens and adults to scratch cook without extra steps, fuss and stress.
I want to empower everyone, especially young cooks, to become knowledgeable consumers who shape the food landscape, to demand fresh over packaged and sustainable over mass-produced.
On this website I will give you recipes, ideas and product suggestions that will allow you and your family to cook fresh meals without overthinking your food choices and without beating yourself up over what your family is eating: progress over perfection, simple over complicated.
I studied English Literature and Italian at Georgetown University in the mid-nineties with the romantic notion of living in Italy while writing and traveling. That dream soon gave way to reality when after graduation I bounced between many entry-level jobs including being a paralegal (with the idea of maybe going to law school) and later as a marketing specialist for Price Waterhouse Coopers (yes, a far cry from the romantic intellectual life I planned for myself).
When I moved to NYC in the late nineties I became mesmerized by the bursting culinary scene in the city and spent my free time (when not working at an accounting firm) scavenging the city for unique ingredients I read about in the New York Times Cooking Section.
My boyfriend (now husband) Chris encouraged me greatly to pursue my new found culinary passion, even buying me my first chef’s knife and enrolling me in cooking classes. I would bound back from my classes to our tiny NYC apartment and with wild abandon create every type of food possible – complete with epic meal failures that Chris would dutifully eat for the next week (I somehow always cooked in high volume).
After five years in NYC we left in order for Chris to pursue an MBA in Chicago and for me to get a culinary degree at Kendall Culinary School.
Culinary school was the best decision I ever made. It was so difficult and rewarding. After graduation I felt creative and powerful.
We moved to Denver for Chris’ job and here I have spent years working in kitchens and catering operations, finally ending up teaching cooking full time once my two boys were school-aged.
These days my romantic ideals hold as true as they did when I was in my early 20s with a heathy dose of realism: I believe cooking and eating should not be a source of anxiety in your life. It’s the simplest of pleasures and should, at its core, remain simple.
Some of My Featured Press