While Wendy is not biologically a mother, she is definitely a mother to many. She mothers her friends (including Chef Lisa), loved ones, and has been a mother hen to her drama students over the years. Wendy Festenstein was born in 1947 on the south side of Chicago. Her parents divorced when she was seven and Wendy was raised in a three family home with she and her mom on the first floor, aunt Ruth on the second, and her uncle Sam and grandfather on the third. Since her mother wasn’t a great cook, Wendy learned most of her culinary skills from aunt Ruth, who was the cook in the family.
Wendy learned all about mothering when she was only thirteen years old and had to care for her mom who had become ill with multiple sclerosis. She shopped, cooked and did what she could to keep her mother comfortable. She studied theater in college, but had to drop out after two years to care for her mom, who died a few years later, soon after Wendy got married. The marriage ended within months when she discovered her husband was unfaithful. She rekindled a relationship with an old flame, married him within a year, but lost him to cancer after only six years together.
After seeing the movie Sometimes a Great Notion (filmed in Oregon), Wendy decided to move to Portland in 1974. She returned to acting (her true love), became a member of the Storefront Theater in 1976, and performed in a number of plays. One of the most successful was a one-woman show about the life of Sophie Tucker. When the
offer came to star in the same show in Los Angeles, Wendy and her husband Mark moved to California so she could further pursue her acting career. Wendy taught drama and Mark fine art to students like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians at the Buckley school (“where college begins at two”), but after six years in California they had “had it” and moved back to Portland.
To this day Wendy continues to act (most recently in her autobiographical “Medicarefully Fabulous” with Triangle Productions) and work her day job at Switch Clothing in Multnomah Village. In between all that, she still makes time to cook for herself and Mark, share meals with her girlfriends, and make sure all the people in her life are happy, healthy and mothered.
Egg Salad Sandwich
Wendy grates her eggs so they’re fluffy, then stirs them with house-made mayonnaise, a touch of dijon mustard & fresh dill, served on hallah bread with lettuce & a side of pasta salad, or a bed of poppy seed-dressed greens
Corned Beef & Cabbage
corned beef brisket slow-cooked with baby potatoes, cabbage & carrots, served with horseradish cream
Aunt Ruth’s Beef Stew
slow-cooked natural beef with baby carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions & peas
Espresso Mud Pie
chocolate cookie crust topped with house-made espresso ice cream & chocolate ganache, served with whipped cream, white & dark chocolate sauces