Helen Roberts has had a distinguished career at Kikkoman test kitchens where she was a recipe developer and tester, and created culinary videos showing new ways to work with Kikkoman’s range of products.  She also served as president of Les Dames Escoffier – San Francisco for the past 2 years. Her early culinary training was received from her Southern culinary traditions, a degree from the California Culinary Academy and further certification from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and at the Seasons of My Heart Cooking School in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Under the Obama administration she was invited to the White House to discuss her views on fighting childhood obesity. 

Helen (pictured at right) with former SFPFS President Rene Matthews

Helen (pictured at right) with former SFPFS President Rene Matthews

When did you first decide you wanted to make food your career?
In 1981 Kikkoman conducted a blind taste test, and I was the only employees to answer all correctly, they immediately enrolled me at the Center for Professional Development where I honed my skills to become a super taster.

How did you get where you are today in the food business.
Diverse culinary training in the U.S. and abroad.

What is your favorite food experience?
My favorite experience is what I like to call “Pantry Surfing” basically checking out what I have on hand in the fridge and pantry and creating something delicious on the spot.

If you had one last meal, what would it be?
Thanksgiving – Turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberries & potato salad

What is the most exciting thing going on in food right now, in your opinion?
The Farm to Table movement

What advice do you have for young people who wanted a career in food (or a career in your field?)
The food industry is so enormous young people may only know about cooking and not know about food styling,  photography, etc.  It is important to join professional organizations to network and expose themselves to what others are accomplishing in the food world.

What condiment is always in your refrigerator.

What was your first cookbook?
The Joy of Cooking

What cookbook could not live without?
The Encyclopedia of Cajun Cooking

What is your go-to recipe for entertaining?
Crab and artichoke dip

What have I gained (or would like to gain) from being a member of the SFPFS?
My career included a lot of traveling.  As a part of SFPFS I get a glimpse of the food scene in the Bay Area.