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Celebrity Spaces: Anna Olson

Canada’s baking sweetheart, Anna Olson is sugar and spice and everything nice!

Foodie fans first noticed her on Food Network’s Sugar, which lead to Fresh with Anna Olson, Bake with Anna Olson and 10 top selling cookbooks. She continues to expand her audience with her successful YouTube channel, Oh Yum with Anna Olson.

Olson’s love of baking started in the kitchen with her grandmother, who was her baking mentor and major influence into becoming a chef.“I have wonderful memories of baking with her while I was growing up. She noticed I had more than a casual interest in baking, and that’s when she really took an effort to show me recipes from our Slovak heritage.

I still make many of these recipes now, such as “Pagach” – a cheese and potato filled bread that looks like a giant, baked pierogi (and tastes like one, too).”

Inspired by her grandmother’s recipes Olson continues to bake and cook using fresh local ingredients.  “I love making fruit pies throughout the summer, with seasonal fruit. With the LG ProBake Convection oven, I can rely on even cooking. So whether it’s a strawberry rhubarb pie or a peach pie, they all turn out perfectly.”

Olson’s latest venture is working with LG Canada on inspiring Canadians to cook more and developing new innovative products.  “I’m excited to be partnered with LG Electronics Canada on their Kitchen Memory Rescue campaign. LG commissioned a survey to better understand Canadian eating habits and inspire Canadians to cook more together to make meaningful memories”, shares Olson.

“With 77 per cent of Canadians worried that they are missing out on building valuable family memories by not cooking and eating as a family, I’m excited to inspire others to start making delicious recipes together, like I did with my grandmother.”

With so much time spent in the kitchen, I had to ask her when she makes time for herself. “What? There are other rooms in the house? When not cooking (for fun or work), I am an avid reader, take ballet classes and I’m trying to convince my bestie that we should take tennis lessons together.”

Q: How would you describe your home?A: Tough question! Welcoming. It’s a 20th century Italianate Victorian home – clapboard originally, now siding, built in the 1860s. When we purchased in 2001, it had been poorly converted into apartments in the 1960s, so we reclaimed it as a whole and have renovated just about every inch.

Q: What is your favourite room and why?A: In summer, the wraparound porch is my favourite spot, and in winter, it’s our dining room – the fireplace had been hidden under panelling when we bought the house, so it was such a treasure to discover it when we renovated! Cooking meals as a family is super important to me and some of my most cherished memories come from creating delicious meals with my loved ones. The best part about cooking together in the kitchen, is enjoying the meal together – and even though we have a formal dining room, it never feels formal or stiff…always relaxed and full of laughter. We can sit at the table for hours, long after the dinner is over (but mind you, I’m known for serving more than one dessert course).

Q:  How much time do you spend at home?A: I travel a lot, for work and leisure, but when I am back in Niagara, I am a serious homebody. My home kitchen is my office, and being married to another chef, we love nothing more than an evening in to cook together.

Q: Who shares this home with you?A: It’s just my husband, Michael and I here now although we often have weekend guests and family come stay. We did have two beagles, Oscar and Priscilla, but now that we travel a fair bit, we’ve held off on a new canine addition.

Q: As a Chef do you cook at home in your kitchen or is it a time out zone?A: I love to cook in my home kitchen. It’s where I test out my recipes, come up with new ideas and build meaningful memories with my family. LG Canada is retrofitting my kitchen with new appliances including the LG ProBake Convection oven. I love this oven because it cooks everything evenly– I’m so excited to have it in my kitchen.Whenever I write a new recipe, I try and make it as efficient and easy as I can, provided I am not compromising on the quality, nutrition or character of the dish. With the right tools, the home cook is empowered and confident, and that’s how I want people to feel after they’ve made my recipe. I want them to feel proud when they bring their dish to the table, and have their friends and family value the moment, making it a memory that is treasured.

Q: How would you describe your decorating style?A: Eclectic, leaning towards French country. Respecting the fact that I live in an older home, I also want modern technology at hand. This is why the LG InstaView fridge fits well into my renovation plans – it has an elegant style with its tinted glass door and the practicality of quick access to often-used items.

Q: What is your fondest memory in this home?A: I feel lucky to have so many, but a recent moment involved my stepdaughter, Mika, and her fiancé coming for a weekend visit. We all cooked and chatted, and they told us they wanted to hold their wedding here in Niagara. I remember pulling flourless chocolate cookies from the oven as they said this, and in that moment, they asked if I would make their wedding cake. Delighted to make their cake, I think I’ll always associate the smell of those cookies with their wedding now!

Q:  What’s the one item in this house you can’t live without?A: On the practical side, we can’t live without two refrigerators, and the space of the LG InstaView fridge offers plenty of room to store everything! Not only does it allow me to store all of my desserts, it contains all of our meats and produce for daily dinners! And how could I forget – space for plenty of cheese…cheese is my weakness! The fridge has this neat function where you can knock on the tinted door for it to illuminate to see what’s inside. It helps my husband and I make sure we aren’t wasting food and are doing our part to be more environmentally friendly by not opening and closing the fridge!On the emotional side, it would be a sculpture called “Ship of Life”, created by my father. When he gave it to us, it came in parts and needed assembling. When we asked if there were instructions to set it up correctly, he answered, “Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual…it’s up to you.”

Q: Weekends at home, what are we most likely to find you doing?A: Weekends are when I relish cooking and baking the most, because I can bake what I want, when I want. We have friends pop by regularly during weekends, so I love to make them a coffee while I work away in the kitchen and feed them.If I’m not cooking, I’m either reading or I like to walk 10 km each weekend day – as much for my head as my physical health.

Q: If your walls could talk, what would they say?A:  “The party always ends up in the kitchen, doesn’t it?”

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