10 Questions with Local Chef Lauren Peterson

Food by local chef Lauren Peterson
A full professional kitchen might not be something you’d expect to find in a bank; nor classes that teach Blue Zone healty lifestyle choices. At three bank locations in Southwest Florida FineMark National Bank and Trust enhances the customer experience with food prepared fresh onsite.

“Hospitality is ingrained in everything we do at FineMark. Having a chef on staff has allowed us to serve our clients with a warm and personal atmosphere,” says Adria Starkey, Collier County President for FineMark National Bank and Trust Company.

An alumna of the Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Program, Chef Lauren Peterson became the executive chef of the Naples FineMark office in 2015.

I recently met with Chef Peterson to tour the kitchen (which has the first non-ducted professional hood I’ve ever seen) and ask a few questions.

Chef Lauren Peterson and Adria Starkey
Chef Lauren Peterson and Collier President Adria Starkey

What do you think about the pre-packaged food trend?

LP: I think it’s a good idea for convenience but it really doesn’t help people who really don’t want to cook. If you learn good meal planning and good techniques you can save yourself a lot of money.

When creating an event, what do you hope participants take away?

LP: I hope they feel inspired and less intimidated. Once they see someone demonstrate techniques they are more likely to try it themselves.

What cookbook should everyone own?

LP: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
It’s very intimating if you don’t cook but, it’s great for learning good foundation techniques.

What are the top 3 tools in your kitchen?

LP: Cast iron skillet, immersion blender, Vitamix blender

Who inspires you as a cook?

LP: My grandmother is the person who first got me interested in cooking. I follow a lot of food bloggers who make really good food from their own kitchen.

 Chef Lauren Peterson

Who are your go-to’s on  Instagram?

LP: Food52 @food52, Molly Yeh @mollyyeh, Samin Nosrat @ciaosamin

Local love list…what is your favorite local food or place to eat out in Southwest Florida?

LP: I love when clients bring me mangoes from their yard.

What would people be surprised to find in your refrigerator?

LP: They would be surprised to find it empty. I like to buy my food the day I prepare it.

1 word to describe your cooking style?

LP: Approachable

What’s your guilty pleasure snack food?

LP: Candycorn – I love that you can find it almost any time of the year now!