Ariana Duncan was raised on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in south Alabama, where she learned to yell, "War Eagle," and fish. Her family moved to Knoxville when she was 12, and in the years following she became a self-described "big nerd" with deep-seated feelings about Marvel Comics, Harry Potter, and the Lord of the Rings series. A 2014 graduate of the University of Tennessee with a degree in English, she spends her free time hiking, camping, playing video and board games, and convincing herself this is the year for the Cubs to win it all. Passionate about animal rescue, she met her feline soulmate, a Maine Coon mix named Vesper, while volunteering with a local humane society.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or gadget?
My apple slicer. I like apples but I'm also lazy.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when working in the kitchen?
My mom and dad are both great cooks and I learned a lot just from watching them. All of the recipes I have memorized are meals I helped my mom cook and some of those are recipes she got from her mom. If I have a question about how to cook something, I send a group text to my parents asking for their help.
What is your funniest kitchen disaster or mishap?
As clumsy as I am, I didn't sustain any cooking injuries until very recently, when I hit the oven element with the back of my hand. Now I have a lovely burn scar that reminds me to be more patient when I'm in the kitchen. Since it's a very visible scar, it's become quite the conversation starter. (Editor's Note: This injury was sustained just days before Ariana came in for her interview with KaTom and actually served as a recommendation for her to write about kitchen equipment.)
What food that you make are you most proud of?
I'm proud of myself every time I cook something without messing it up.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Teleportation would be fun, but I'm not great with directions and would probably end up teleporting into the middle of the ocean.
What is the best meal you ever ate?
I once had a sandwich at Acre, a restaurant in Auburn, Ala., that was so good, I dreamed about eating it again - twice.
What got you interested in writing?
I grew up with an appetite for reading and always appreciated the power of a well-written sentence. I realized I had a natural talent for writing when I started writing essays in school and decided to cultivate those talents in college.
What is the name of your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?
Once upon a time, I didn't like burgers – but then I ate the Hurt Locker from Stock & Barrel in downtown Knoxville and realized that burgers can be delicious. Stock & Barrel also has really great appetizers and sides (like fried pickles and macaroni and cheese) that keep me coming back for more.