When you get up in the morning, do you ever think to yourself….Have I made a difference in anyone’s life?

It doesn’t matter if you are the teacher of young minds, a doctor who heals, the barista with the perfect cappuccino or the housewife who greets everyone with a smile….you want to make a difference.

I am a firm believer that we are all small pebbles capable of making ripples of waves in other’s lives….we just might not realize it sometimes.

I woke up this morning thinking about this because I wanted to wish The Chopping Block in Chicago a Happy 20th anniversary. (The celebration started on Saturday at the Lincoln Square store but there will be more fun this Saturday, April 8th, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Merchandise Mart Location, Suite 107, Chicago IL. They will have classes, a 20 % on selected items in the retail space and, of course, food.)

Today, I want to dedicate this blog to Shelley Young (owner/chef) and the staff at The Chopping Block for making such a difference in my life.

Around the same time The Chopping Block was opened, I was a new bride. I was a reformed picky eater who had spent my life fearing food and not trying new things. I had developed the love of cooking classes locally in my small town but had the desire to learn more….and then I found The Chopping Block.

My first class was on Thai cooking and the menu included a Tom Kha Gai , Pad Thai and Shrimp Curry. I was intimidated at first but immediately felt at home in their kitchen.

I was primed on knife skills, tasting spoons and clean workstations. I tasted y food with little plastic spoons and was introduced to Maldon salt.

My senses were all put to work as I looked for color changes of onions, listened for the sizzle of my shrimp in the pan and smelled the nuances of the curry and garlic. I was the person in class who needed to touch everything and probably was the first person to sit at the table to taste our meal.

It was a fabulous experience and I was hooked. Since that time I have taken classes on everything from artisan bread baking to sausage making to the Mother Sauces. I am able to preserve food from my garden, roll up some sushi and prepare chili like a champion. I’ve learned ethnic new flavors and how to enhance the ones I’ve known for years. The Chopping Block taught me to make brunch, lunch and dinner with creativity and confidence.

So today I’m looking back at my two 3 ring binders filled with recipes and memories. My container of tasting spoons is always near by and my tin of Maldon salt stays in my purse for seasoning emergencies when I’m out.

I remember a lot of the chefs who were very tolerant of the gal who asked a lot of questions and embraced my enthusiasm. And my heart will forever be grateful to those of you who accommodated me in class after my long bouts of illness. My moments with you all gave me hope and a feeling of being “normal” again….you got me cooking.

With all of this said, I wonder if Shelley thought about how she was going to make such a difference in so many people’s lives when she opened 20 years ago. She has been one of the small pebbles in my life that has set off ripple after ripple when it comes to how I cook.

Thank you for making a difference in my life….and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY THE CHOPPING BLOCK!!!!