A Chef Knows Best

How to avoid isolation through a delicious recipe meant to share


By Liz Gastiger and Kevin


For a chef, the starving artist is a very fitting topic for the Arts Issue of The Voice. Why didn’t all those starving artists just meet a chef? No one would rather feed a starving artist more than a chef, except maybe their mothers. 

Part of the explanation for why artists “starve” has to do with being too busy with their art for a relationship with a chef or anyone else. Some of the answer has to do with pop culture romanticizing the isolated artist. Some of the answer, today, has to do with the isolated artist being taught in schools as a historical fact. While some famous artists fit the cultural and societal label of an isolated artist, like Vincent Van Gogh (Impressionist Painter), Daniel Day-Lewis (Actor), Herman Hesse (Author), Ani DiFranco (Musician) and George Orwell (Author), many other artists did not isolate. This romantic, isolated image of the artist comes especially from the likes of Michelangelo, lying on his back up high on scaffolding and alone for years while painting the Sistine Chapel. Applying these images in today’s culture, you could ask yourself, do we romanticize isolation too much? Is isolation dangerous?

Today, more and more, I see examples of isolation as a solution to everything. Of course, we know all this stems from the pandemic when at least 27 countries on every continent have closed their borders to some foreign nationals. Canada, our closest neighbor, still has not opened its borders. Large international cities, like New York City, became isolated. And without any doubt, hundreds of millions of homes became isolated.

As we all adapted valiantly to isolation, it became easier and easier to apply it to many aspects of our lives. It became easy to isolate from that dating relationship, or that sometimes annoying neighbor, or those relatives, even siblings, whose choices we question. Isolation, while it may benefit a few artists in focusing on their talent, can lead some to loneliness, depression and losing oneself. Because, if or when we get to the point when we are tired of the isolation, what will we be left with? Do not make isolation your lifestyle. I say practice baking a cake, bread or a pie and reconnect soon. Here is a delicious recipe that is meant to share with others:

Best Ever Chocolate Cake


1 ¼ cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm coffee (I usually use decaf)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk. Combine the coffee, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and vinegar. Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients with a whisk, just until mixed.

Butter, flour (or use a baking pan spray) and coat an 8” round cake pan. Pour in your prepared batter and bake for 30 minutes.


Before baking, you can sprinkle some chocolate chips (you can use butterscotch, peanut butter chips or any other chips you may like) before baking. I like this cake served plain with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. However, I have iced it with a cream cheese frosting and a salted caramel frosting, and they were both equally delicious.