I must begin with two clarifications.... 1) No, this title is not misspelled, and  2) This blog is years late in the making! Life and my desperate desire to 'get it right' kept delaying me... I would re-edit this...try to improve on it.... and in the end I came back to my original blog about one of the most amazing peeople I have EVER had the privilege to know... at long last, here it is.

The end of 2010 and flowing into early 2011 was a rough patch for me. Ok to be fully honest I have accurately used the word traumatic to describe that time. My faith in people, in justice, in morality...was broken... it was actually shattered into smithereens. My love for my children kept me functioning and pushing through, but I was very much worse for wear.

I am an avid TV watcher - sometimes for entertainment, sometimes for research for projects always brewing in my head...but in those broken down days even TV could not sweep me away. 
Fast forward to June 2011 and Masterchef Season 2 began. I love cooking and I also like Gordon Ramsay's passion for his craft... as well as his amazing heart and larger than life personality. I tuned in hoping to be distracted by the cooking....what I found was a group of people, most of whom I found engaging. One however stood out for SO many reasons. Literally from the very first episode featuring this 'home cook', I was indeed 'Starr Struck'.

 I was not alone. As the season progressed just about everyone who watched, fell in love with Ben Starr. Wearing colorful chef's hats made for him by his mother, this engaging man was a fabulously creative cook with a heart ten times bigger than his home state of Texas.

I of course checked out Ben's site....his recipes, travel blogs, and more were fascinating to me. One day I WILL purchase a signed copy of his cookbook. That is a MUST!

I believe it was Ben's neighbor who coined the phrase, 'Have you Ben Starr struck?' and how apt that is. SO many people fell in love with this gentle, funny, talented soul. I tweeted and emailed to Ben asking his cooking advice on something, and ... then read he was coming (back) to LA on his way to Burning Man. I didn't even think, I just impulsively asked if I could meet with him when he was in town...and... he said YES!

I was actually SO nervous to meet Ben. I kept voicing my concerns to my family and friends that I wouldn't know what to say. Silly thing to have worried about! I met Ben for brunch and - VERY unusual for me - especially right about that time in my life - I was fully at ease with him and felt as if I had truly known him forever. We sat and chatted and as I sat there totally enthralled by Ben's stories, I realized something. Ben Starr is WAY more than a travel blogger, chef, cookbook author etc etc. He was not just someone who maintained a positive outlook or had a good heart... he was the embodiment of love and wisdom as they truly are. No life is not all rainbows and unicorns but the way Ben sees, handles, views, expresses... every kind of situation in life is from this wisdom that comes from a true love... love of nature, of the universe, of humankind. He is the ONE person who I can believe would truly love a person's soul even if the person's behavior made you wonder if they had one!

VERY uncharacteristically of me as well, I was HAPPY to be in a picture.. and it showed. This is one of my most cherished photos coming a close second to photos of my children.

Years have past, Ben and I have kept in touch. He even surprised me with an amazing birthday gift one year that I use daily. I read EVERY post and blog that Ben shares. I find his travel blogs fascinating - I am NOT the adventurous type but develop a deep multi sensory appreciation for many far away places through Ben's written experiences. His recipes are to die for delish! That is all - try one... you will be hooked! When Ben blogs about social issues, events, and experiences... there is SO much wisdom in his perspective that if even HALF of humanity would align with it, we would ALL be better off. When Ben shares about each year's Burning Man experience via videos and blogs...the spiritual depths of witnessing all of that are life changing - at least for me. One day maybe I will be brave enough to tag along with him... we will see....until then I will absorb it all vicariously through what he shares.

On my 'MUST' list (I don't like 'bucket' list as a concept but that's another whole blog) is one day to learn from Ben Starr... not just life lessons via blog but cooking... side by side watching and learning from the man who TRULY believes as I do that food is a universal language and through it we bring joy, comfort, love, inspiration, excitement, and connection. My girls and I are vegetarian with nut allergies (there goes a bunch of vegetarian staple fare) and my son is a carnivore but has very specific dietary preferences and requirements. Not an easy bunch to cook for and on a budget. For as much as I know about food, for as many people that turn to ME for recipes, techniques etc.....I want to learn from this man who I feel is the master of the soul of food. One day..  I hope.

Ben.... THANK YOU... for the amazing radiance you have added to my life and to SO many others. You have touched SO many more lives than you even realize. You are a cherished friend, always!