TDS 36 How to Love The Kitchen You have. Interview with Amanda Riordan of Mise en Place

Amanda Riordan of Mise en Place

Amanda Riordan of Mise en Place

Most of us don’t get the kitchen of our dreams, but instead, one we’ve inherited. That also goes for some of the stuff that’s housed within it. For example, there’s that fryer you received as a gift, or the rice maker you thought you really needed, and the toaster oven that doesn’t get used enough given the plot of counter space it takes up.

This week on #thedeliciousstory, I talk with Amanda Riordan of Mise en Place Kitchen Organization and Menu Planning about how to turn the inefficient kitchen around without the expense of a huge remodel. Amanda has turned her talents (a powerhouse combination of culinary expertise and organizational savvy) to the task of helping people make the most of their kitchen spaces.  

The goal of Amanda’s work is to facilitate kitchen enjoyment for her clients, thus allowing for creativity and less hassle while cooking. You know, so they can enjoy it. If you can relate to that bowl stacked below the other bowls you use most often, or to the cabinet of spices and seasonings where you always get lost in the search, or to the unused items that sit collecting grease, then you should read on and learn more about Amanda.


Amanda explains how she acquired her sense of pragmatism, in her case as someone who was nailed by the 2008 financial crisis. She considered her next move as an entirely new vocation. Amanda was a wordsmith working for a nonprofit when the market came to a halt, and she had to regroup. You’ll learn how she came to realize that a profession in the food and beverage industry was her path, which turned out to be one she loves and has reaped many benefits from.

Amanda earned her degree from the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College, and along the way has taught some adult education courses helping others maximize menu planning with the foods already in their cupboards and fridge. It was this process that opened her eyes to the hunger of others seeking simplicity and order in the kitchen, and so she catered her business services to serve this niche.

Much of the time it isn’t what we have that is the issue, but how we use it and where it lands in our daily lives. It’s like when you go to a hotel room with nothing more than the things in your luggage and feel the lightness of having fewer decisions—after all, you only have a handful of items at your disposal.

It is THAT Marie Kondo effect that many of us crave. If we reduce and organize our stuff, we ultimately eliminate some of the decisions we face in the minutia of daily activity and instead can focus our energies on the details that matter. Amanda explains her process and how she works with each client so that, within a short frame of time, they can enjoy the Kondo-effect—a few less things and things well placed—in that most-used and oh-so-important room in our home…the kitchen.


Amanda shares her memorable meal story which is undeniably charming. It is an anecdote that illustrates the magic of an event that came with few expectations but surprised someone nonetheless. As for her comfort food memory, Amanda left me craving a serving of what she had for her usual evening snack. Honestly, this was one of the more unique comfort food preferences I’ve heard from a guest.

Speaking of the unexpected...Amanda conceded she didn’t have a recipe to share, and then produced such a yummy idea for an appetizer that I was immediately excited at the notion of trying this one myself. Basically, her go-to appetizer dish is crab rangoons with a hit of curry powder to taste.

Amanda is one of THOSE cooks who can mix ingredients by eye and taste. She blends the cream cheese and crab meat with some green onions and then adds the curry powder based on her preference. I got a little overwhelmed with the folding and frying of the wonton wrappers, but Amanda made a GREAT suggestion of just frying the wrappers separately as chips, which I thought was marvelous! You’ll want to hear from her how this recipe ends up dazzling others when she serves it.

For those of us who are not adventurous when it comes to throwing together a meal (and prefer, instead, a recipe), I stumbled onto this one over at Dinner at The Zoo with Sara Welch. I like that it offers up baking the rangoons rather than frying them as an option, and figure this might work especially well if the wrappers are baked as chips instead (borrowing from Amanda’s idea).


As I circle around to the finish of this week’s podcast, I still delight in the simplicity of solving one’s kitchen problems by decluttering and organizing properly. I believe that if we let go, we can gain more—and when it comes to food preparation I’m all about more!!!


Alexandra and Sherry, 2016

Alexandra and Sherry, 2016

Sherry is the founder of Storied Gifts a personal publishing service of family and company histories. She and her team help clients curate and craft their stories into books. When not writing or interviewing, Sherry spends loads of time with her grandchildren and lives in Des Moines, Iowa.


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