mother of the month (m.o.m)
Claire Perez is a freelance recipe developer, food columnist and food stylist with over 20 years of editorial and advertising experience in print and film. Her client list varies from national multi-brands to independent restaurants. As one of 12 children born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, immediate family gatherings meant parties for 60. Her mother, Julia, was a stay at home mom until Claire’s youngest sister was school-aged, which allowed her to pursue a nursing degree. With a dozen mouths to feed, Julia spent most of her day in the kitchen. By the time she prepped, cooked, served and cleaned up one meal for her brood, it was time to start thinking about the next. To spend time with her mother meant spending time in the kitchen. Claire’s earliest memories stem from that time by her side and she recalls, “I vividly remember standing in front of the sink, watching apple peels fall in one continuous strand from her paring knife in anticipation of homemade applesauce or that evening’s cobbler. Eventually, with age and dexterity that task became mine. Later in life, while working in Chef Jacques Torres’s pastry kitchen at Restaurant Le Cirque, he would challenge his prep cooks to see who could peel apples the fastest with one continuous strand. Mom was, and is, never far from my heart and soul.”
Claire dabbled in various hospitality positions before relocating to New York City in 1993 to help her brother launch the opening of a new restaurant. She continued expanding her culinary prowess in restaurant management before following her dream of attending culinary school. She graduated with honors from The International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute) in 1995. Claire landed a pastry externship that led to a job at Le Cirque, where she met Chef Lisa Schroeder, who was working as a line cook. After the restaurant closed, the pair took the adventure of a lifetime and traveled throughout Europe with the sole objective of cooking and eating. After returning to the States in 1996, Claire searched for a job in the industry that would be conducive to a future family life and found one as a freelance food stylist at “Martha Stewart Living” magazine. She spent the next seven years as a senior food editor doing work for the magazine, weddings, books and television.
Claire gave birth to her daughter Ruby in 2001 and returned to freelance work in order to spend as much time with her baby as possible. After witnessing the horrific events of 9/11 firsthand, they relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida. As a single mom who spent a significant amount of time working from home on the computer or testing recipes, Ruby would follow in her mother’s footsteps, by her side, growing up in the kitchen.