My mother left me two legacies at the end of her short life, both sprung from the same idea: great art can spontaneously appear anywhere, anytime.

The first legacy was her music, which was impromptu and spectacular. She was a trained singer and a natural actress but when she became a single mother, her audience dwindled to – me. When she sang – which was daily – and often accompanied by “Music Minus Soprano” records, she expected me to behave like an audience of a thousand at the Met.  And she gave a performance worthy of that audience.  That was the deal.

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Mom’s Legacy Leads to Fame

Like an artistic Dr. Jekyll, when I became her audience, she transformed into a passionate Diva.

The result is that I expect all musical performance to be a constant shift between bigger-than-life magnificence and everyday human “we’re-just-talking.” My shows – and especially my Mother’s Day Shows – reflect that.

The second legacy she left me was her cooking. Like me, she was easily distracted from everyday responsibilities by the call of artistic pursuit.  And when that happened, meals got burnt.  By the time I entered High School she’d stopped cooking entirely and our diet consisted of raw foods and Jack-in-the-Box take-out.

When I left home, I followed suit. The one big culinary difference between my mother and me is that I started collecting my burnt offerings – at first, just for fun – because it tickled me to put burnt toast in a gilded frame or mount a scorched muffin under glass.  But when Scott Simon from “Weekend Edition” came to my house for an interview, he noticed my collection, described it on the air, and soon the Food Network was calling to do a feature on what had become my “Burnt Food Museum.”

Now the “Burnt Food Museum” has its own website and receives submission offers from far and wide, but it was my Mom who first introduced me to an appreciation of the artform.   I’m not the only one.  Burnt Food is a legacy many mothers pass to their children – and thanks my Museum, I  get heart-warming emails like this from strangers all over the world:

“Growing up, my mom burnt everything.  I had no idea how cool that was until tonight.  You have healed my soul.” (K.C.)

… and …

“In grade school when they asked what people’s mothers did for a hobby, I said, ‘My mom burns pots.’ I think I am one of the privileged few to witness their mom in safety glasses using a metal stripper to whack burnt gunk off a pot.” (M.B.)

You can see more testimonials to the art of culinary failure at


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