Lisa Baker Morgan is a woman with many culinary talents
Before Lisa Baker Morgan was a private chef, cooking class instructor and author who divides her time between Paris and the Westside, she was a lawyer who specialized in business litigation.
“The key to my life, and maybe any life, is flexibility and finding how you can do the things that you want to do and developing a schedule that allows you to be comfortable with the roles that you’re in,” Morgan said.
Morgan has fulfilled many roles over the years, from being a single mother of two daughters to becoming a trustee on the boards of The Colleagues Helpers in Philanthropic Service (CHIPS) and Children’s Institute Inc (CII).
During the pandemic, Morgan tied her cooking expertise to fundraising for CII by teaching a series of online classes called “Dinner in Paris.”
“The primary reason why I’m doing all these classes is because it’s so close to my heart, there’s such a need for it,” Morgan said.
When Morgan started out as a cooking class instructor, she taught large group classes for adults at Surfas Culinary District in Culver City. Over the years, she saw a shift in the market and moved to smaller private classes so she could focus more on each student. As a result of COVID-19, Morgan switched her cooking classes to online.
“The one thing I always liked about cooking, the one thing that really drew me to it, was the teaching aspect,” Morgan said. “I consistently did that since graduating from culinary school.”
After completing culinary school, Morgan was mentored by renowned chef Matthew Carpenter. She also started her own company, CIAO YUMMY!, offering catering and private chef services.
In 2011, Morgan published her first book, “simple pleasures fifty-two weeks of turning ordinary ingredients into extraordinary moments.” It includes an entire year of simply written recipes that transform everyday items into wonderful dishes and features 18 pages of photographs.
“I think it’s important for people to cook by season, which isn’t always emphasized,” Morgan said. “I made the [first] book small enough so [readers] could take it with them to the farmers’ market.”
In 2014, Morgan teamed up with Ann McCormick to co-author an herb growing and cooking book, “Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses.”
She also highlights her travels and recipes in her blog, “Chef Morgan à table.” In 2020, Morgan published a memoir, “Paris, Part Time,” which describes her half-life in France and includes correlating recipes and photographs.
Morgan takes pride in using the freshest ingredients and favors the French cooking style. To her, cooking is an act of sharing creativity and French culture concurs with her ideals. Both value fine, fresh ingredients and preparing food with care. She also appreciates the French way of creating beautiful food.
“For me, it’s hard to separate French food from the French culture,” Morgan said. “It’s a celebration of humanity in every way.”
Morgan’s other favorite food culture is Japan. Alongside her favorite Piment d’Espelette from Southwest France, she loves using Japanese yuzu juice in her recipes. When combining Japanese and French foods, Morgan makes a fusion of ingredients using French techniques.
“One reason that I find Japanese and French food are intertwined is because there is an emphasis on very simple plates, and minimal and fresh ingredients,” Morgan said.
Morgan describes her personal style as a fusion of Japanese, French and Californian foods. Her go-to dishes are those with fish, fresh oils, yuzu, herbs and minimalistic foods. She noted that a lot of the fish she likes to use frequently, such as Dover sole, are not readily available in California, but can be ordered online.
“Over the years, my style has become much lighter and I’ve really developed a fondness for cooking lighter things,”
Morgan said. “Now, people will ask me to do more of those things because they know that’s what I like to do. Over the years, there’s [also] been a lot more vegetarians and vegans. I love to cook vegetables, a lot of fresh herbs and seafood.”
The Westside has always been home to Morgan. While she was married, she moved to the Hollywood Hills, but later returned to the Westside to be closer to her daughters’ school and enjoy the outdoors.
“There are so many beautiful places in LA, but for me [the Westside] has been the niche that I’ve been the most comfortable in,” Morgan said.
Follow Morgan on Instagram at @chefmorgan
— Katie Lulla