En español | People say nothing is better than following your true calling, and lucky are those who make a living doing what they love. This definitely applies to Denisse Oller, who, after more than 20 years as a news anchor, turned her passion for cooking into a job.
In joining with AARP as its cooking and nutrition expert, Denisse brings "recipes without borders," interviews with famous chefs, and her secrets for fine dining, health and nutrition.
"Healthy and delicious dining — that's what I want to pass along," says this Puerto Rican, whose passion for gastronomy came from her maternal grandmother, Juana. "I liked to sample whatever she brought to the table. Her seasoning was unrivaled. With time, I began traveling and came across dishes, delicacies and a wide array of flavors and ingredients I'd never tasted," remembers Denisse, who little by little kept adding to her recipe book until one day she realized she was in love with cooking.
Thus began the journey for this fan of cooking. It's an activity that feeds her creativity, she says, and she likes to blend chemistry, art, culture and passion into dishes that will please family and friends. Her favorite dish? Paella, because with rice as its base she can explore different ingredients and flavors.
Denisse's adventure now continues with AARP. "I'll start a dialogue with my friends," she says. "I'll write articles on topics of interest and answer questions from readers. We'll interview chefs and influential people in the culinary world and we'll travel — after all, what's an adventure without traveling and exploring?"
This culinary journey will include all palates and, while keeping diets well balanced, will add ingredients from around the world to Latin American cuisine. "We will make the necessary adjustments — for instance, roasting instead of frying; boiling or steaming; and using natural sweeteners, herbs and spices to enhance flavors," she says.
"What's important here is to be hungry. By that I mean a hunger for learning about new flavors, products and techniques and to be curious and passionate about cooking. And most of all, to be daring and adventurous," says Oller, who embodies the Caribbean spirit.
Every week she'll offer a new menu. But in the end, the recipe will actually belong to the person making it, the one who substitutes one ingredient for another, adds new spices and creates his or her own recipe.
Besides cooking, Denisse has given back to the community through the Puerto Rican Family Institute. She was a member of the board of directors for the nonprofit organization, which helps Latin American families adjust to a new life in this country — especially, she says, "families with young children, because the challenges for them are usually greater. Along my journey many people gave me a hand; it's important for me to give something back," says Denisse, who has also participated in other community service.
Every Monday, Denisse will host a column on cooking and health. On Wednesdays, she will unveil the recipe of the week, and on Fridays Denisse will connect with the online community.
"After all, enjoying life is what it's all about: to live life fully," she says. "I'll be waiting for you."