ST. CROIX, US VIRGIN ISLANDS
She is an attorney by profession and a culinary genius during her spare time. Her name is Tanisha Bailey-Roka. But, she is affectionately known to many as the Crucian Contessa.
CGR: How long have you been cooking or should I say creating dishes?
Contessa: I always loved baking—not so good at cooking—when I was growing up. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was an easy bake oven my parents gave me! That was just a little metal box with a really tiny space for a really tiny cake pan, and a hot light bulb. But boy those little cakes were delicious!! I really started to hone my cooking skills when I went away to college. My mom is an excellent cook. She didn’t believe in feeding us fast food, because in her words, “My food is better than that!” So having to shift from eating my mom’s amazing cooking to college cafeteria food was a real adjustment, to put it mildly. So, I started cooking most of my own meals. It’s amazing what you can do with two pots and a college stove top. And I just continued to cultivate my love of from scratch cooking from there.
CGR: What makes you passionate about cooking?
Contessa: The taste! Making food from scratch and with excellent ingredients is a gift to yourself and to those you share it with. It is simply incomparable to anything that comes frozen or out of a box. Almost anything you can buy, you can make yourself, and you control what goes into it. I also adore the look of pure bliss that crosses someone’s face when they taste something I shared with them. You can’t get that from a box! That comes from time and pride and love! It has its own unique flavor!