Italy remains in cook's heart, food

Denise Waaland cooks all day long for dozens, sometimes hundreds of people. But she still cooks at home. Waaland is also the chairperson of the Maple City Heritage Festival, a mother of two and a grandmother of another two. In what spare time that leaves her, she likes to garden. And she grows everything vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 24, 2010

Denise Waaland cooks all day long for dozens, sometimes hundreds of people. But she still cooks at home.

Waaland is also the chairperson of the Maple City Heritage Festival, a mother of two and a grandmother of another two. In what spare time that leaves her, she likes to garden. And she grows everything vegetables, herbs and flowers.

She also likes to decorate home improvement is a joint effort with her husband, Larry. "He builds, I paint," she said. Larry Waaland worked at Routh Packing for 29 years he's got lots of experience with food too. Now, Larry "follows me around all day," Waaland said.

Even if you didn't know Waaland was born a Berardi, a quick glance in her cupboards would tell you the co-owner of Catering By Design is Italian. Five ingredients she always wants on hand: garlic, good tomatoes, good imported pasta, good olive oil and vinegar.

And she admitted that she's been known to have a private stash of chocolate. She prefers milk she knows dark is better for you, she said, so she figures she gets to eat twice as much milk chocolate.

At home, she most often makes BLT's and sweet corn (on the cob), spaghetti and meatballs, sugar cookies and soup.

If company shows up unexpectedly, she said, she can always pull together a bowl of soup.

In fact, one soup in particular is her family's favorite. At special occasions, Waaland always makes cappelet which means "little hat" in Italian. Cappelet is a veal soup with white cheddar and parmesan cheese. It's so beloved that she has to bring the ladel with her to the table so no one can get seconds before everyone gets firsts.

Everyone fights to sit next to Raj, her brother-in-law and the only member of the family that doesn't like the soup.

Not everything comes out so well however. Once, the professional chef tried a new recipe for Chicken l King, and her family quickly dubbed it "Chicken l Crap."

It was apparently a seminal experience for Waaland. Her advice to other cooks, professional and amateur, is "Have fun, and don't sweat the small stuff. Everyone makes Chicken l Crap every once in a while."