I’m Michele Sidorenkov
Trained Chef & Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
When food and travel combine, magic happens. I am a curious foodie who is constantly whipping up healthy-ish recipes and exploring new places. I’m always craving exciting destinations and want to take you along for the ride. I love creating (mostly) healthy recipes inspired by my travels, what’s in season, and my current cravings. From my plate to your screen, I don’t want you to miss a single bite!
Champagne & Paper Planes is where you’ll find my favorite culinary creations and recent travel bites! I am a trained Chef and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Phoenix, Arizona with my husband Mark and our dog Sadie. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and wandered over to Arizona for college .. and never left!
In college, I loved learning about food. From sustainable agriculture to micronutrient metabolism, I was absolutely fascinated with food science and knew nutrition was my passion. Cooking on the other hand was absolutely terrifying and I could barely follow a recipe!
It wasn’t until I went to culinary school when I realized that cooking is actually really easy, you just need a little guidance. The more confident I became in the kitchen the more I realized that true health starts in the kitchen, not just buried in textbooks.
Rules I learned in culinary school that I try to incorporate into every recipe:
- Let the ingredients shine – Fresh, seasonal ingredients are always the most delicious!
- Keep it simple – Food doesn’t have to be complicated to taste delicious!
- Have fun with it – Whether you’re adding a recipe twist or enjoying an indulgent treat, I want you to always love your food!
Besides food, another big part of my life is travel. Mark travels often for work and because I can work on my blog remotely, I sometimes go with! We never know if he’ll be traveling to LA for a year or spend a week in the middle of nowhere, it’s always changing which is pretty fun.
Before meeting Mark, I studied abroad in London and Italy, and taught English in Korea, with plenty of solo trips in between. No matter where I go, I always end up in a market or local restaurant with hundreds of photos on my camera. Food is vital our culture and I feel honored to showcase and celebrate different cuisines here on the blog!
The Feed Feed / Zing Bars / Food 52 / Bustle – 6 Health Trends That Do More Harm Than Good / Realtor.com – What the Contents of Your Refrigerator Reveal About You / Readers Digest – 10 Professional Chefs Reveal the Dishes They Hate Cooking the Most / MyFitnessPal – What These 3 Food Cravings Really Mean, According to an RD / Well + Good – 8 Natural Ways to Keep Your Energy Up Without Resorting to Coffee
MORE ON BECOMING A REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST
Growing up in Northern California, I was surrounded by a health conscious community that pioneered sustainable food systems, organic produce, and farm to table dining. I took that healthy living mindset with me when I moved from California to Phoenix, Arizona to pursue my undergraduate degree in dietetics at Arizona State University.
Dietetics is a specialty nutrition degree with a strong science foundation and evidence based courses like medical nutrition therapy, micro and macro nutrient metabolism, and advanced human nutrition. I sat side-by-side with students on their way to become doctors, pharmacists, naturopathic physicians, and nurses, all learning about Western medicine and how nutrition, lifestyle, and disease states affect overall health.
While dietetics is an incredible degree, after graduating I knew I had to continue my education and become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in order to make real impactful change in the health and wellness space. Being a credible online source for nutrition information is extremely important to me and is a responsibility that I hold to a very high standard! I have more information about how to become a dietitian and what dietitians do on my FAQ page.
I’ve been an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2010, and have served on committees and held board positions at both the national and local level. I also precept dietetic interns from local internship programs, which allows me to teach future dietitians about nutrition communication, blogging, entrepreneurship, and recipe development.
MORE ON BECOMING A CHEF
Before going to culinary school, I lived in a dorm with no kitchen and one giant cafeteria buffet for my entire undergrad. I loved it. I never had to do dishes, buy ingredients, or keep a refrigerator stocked with food. When I moved into my first apartment, I quickly realized I had basically zero cooking skills. Yeah, I could boil spaghetti and chop vegetables but I wasn’t creating anything of my own nor did I have a sense of basic flavor or recipe fundamentals.
Culinary school changed my life. And if you can believe it, I signed up for culinary school on a whim; it was never something I pictured in my 10 year plan or even life plan! I discovered the program about a week before classes started and decided it would be a fun challenge. I had just finished my undergraduate degree in dietetics, the program itself was pretty inexpensive, and my job was flexible enough to where I could go to culinary school and continue to work full-time. I thought, “Why not?!”
On the first day of culinary school we were thrown right into the kitchen, learning fundamental knife skills and flavor profiles while literally cooking meals to order on the line. It was chaotic, crazy, exhausting, and I loved every single second of it. One of the biggest things I learned in culinary school was that cooking is easy, you just have to know the basics, keep it simple, and be comfortable in the kitchen. I also learned how to add elements of elevation to a dish by taking something that would be considered a ‘home cooked meal’ into a restaurant-worthy dish with a few simple tweaks.
When presenting a dish to my instructors, I would constantly be challenged to take my dish to the next level. I would present a salmon en croute (salmon baked in puff pastry) with a blood orange hollandaise, and they would say, “This looks great. Now take it to the next level.” Constantly pushing the boundaries, thinking outside of the box, and getting creative with my ingredients was ingrained from day one and is something I bring to every recipe I create.
BRINING IT ALL TOGETHER
Culinary school brought my love of food and nutrition education full circle. My undergraduate degree taught me what we should eat and why, while my culinary education showed me how to eat. I get to not only tell you what you should eat but actually show you with a recipe, too! Not all dietitians create recipes and not all chefs know about nutrition, so I feel really, really lucky and humbled to be able to do both!
Awards & Recognition
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year