By Ijabo Dahir
Photos by Claire Shinner
At a family reunion in Missouri, teenager Bonnie Hager came down to breakfast only to find her aunt, who was hosting the reunion had made a wide array of food to accommodate the different family members who had come from as far as the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve never seen so much food at breakfast. She made three different types of fish at breakfast. She also made chicken at breakfast and hushpuppies. French toast, pancakes and waffles. Just everything was there,” Hager said.
Hager’s family comes from both the Pacific Northwest and southern regions of the United States. The big range of flavors she had be exposed to while growing up developed a palate that wasn’t afraid to try new things.
“I feel that I’ve had a broad range of food that [was] available and whenever I travel I always like to try new things,” she said.
Advisor to Roger High School’s newspaper staff and junior English teacher, Hager loves to cook and experiment with food. However, she didn’t always have a love for cooking. As a child, Hager was impatient and couldn’t wait for the food to come out.
“When I was a kid my mom just could not cook the food fast enough. I just wanted the food right then and there,” she said.
Though as she got older, she started to appreciate the art that is cooking and experimenting with your own food.
“You really are a food artist with any kind of dish that you make so I’ve learned to appreciate the process of making a dish,” Hager said.
Today, Hager and her fiance cook together with varying degrees of success. Often watching the Food Network together, they were inspired by the chefs on the shows.
“My fiance and I decided one day when we were watching the Food Network, ‘Hey, these people are making that. I bet we could make that.’ And we gave it a try,” Hager said.
Overall, the fact that cooking allows for different combinations and trying news things is the reason that Hagar is so passionate about cooking.
“[Cooking is] like a lab,” she said, “It’s like science, like you’re a mad scientist in the kitchen.”