PM360 recently spoke to Tara Gill, U.S. Digital Marketing Lead, Bristol-Myers Squibb, about personal baking and catering what you make to the individual.

PM360: How did you first get started with cooking?

Tara Gill: I grew up in a house with parents who had a catering business before their jobs took them elsewhere. There were often “fancy” foods for dinner or “weird” pancakes on weekends that would now be seen as trendy. When I was a teen and my dad passed away, I realized I was out there on my own with the ability to make a fancy cheesecake or lemon butter chicken but had no idea how to cook a hot dog on a grill. Fast forward to years later when I married a man who didn’t know the difference between a simmer and a boil!

What kinds of things do you enjoy cooking now?

I needed to do so much cooking as a kid that now I’d rather leave the cooking to holidays. But I really enjoy baking, especially with a theme around the person I’m baking for. For example, when my sister was getting married, for her shower I had everything in a bright, happy yellow color—big cupcakes on a tiered stand with yellow or white icing and various shades of yellow designs and sprinkles. All the food followed this theme. Sure you could go to a party store and buy the typical party decorations, but using food as a decoration allows me to make it more special and personal.

Do you have any baking specialties?

For some reason people love my cupcakes. There really isn’t anything special about them. I’m convinced it’s the hand mixer that belonged to my grandmother that must make them better. I’ve made elaborate cupcakes with beach themes, monkeys, turtles, lawnmowers, watermelons, and more—but even just a swirl on the top will do. Our family recipe for pumpkin bread is a favorite in the fall. I make small loafs for the teachers at the school and for co-workers and they are oh-so-good. The family cheesecake recipe is to die for as well. I just make sure to put the spring pan on a cookie sheet with water on it while it’s baking so it stays super moist—and no jumping around near the oven!

Have you continued to pass those recipes down within your family?

Yes and both my boys, Logan, 15, and Brody, 11, can and like to cook. They make everything from homemade pasta to rosemary potato chips in the air fryer. It is important to hand down those favorite family recipes, but it is also important to try new things and find new family favorites, like a friend’s recipe we tried for chocolate-dipped Oreo balls. And that husband I mentioned earlier? Scott’s now the main one cooking dinners during the week, and he is right beside me on the holidays. Cooking brings everyone around the table and it’s that togetherness that creates the memories that travel with us.