For Larry Anderson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Sarasota County, the favorite room of the house is the kitchen.
Head honcho of the 600-member HBA since 2005 with a longtime background in human resources with Sarasota County government, Bealls and the Eaton Corporation, Anderson heads for the stove after hours to express his creativity. He learned at his mother’s side while still in elementary school. “My mother was an exceptional cook,” he says. “She started teaching me and I took to it.”
Anderson describes his specialty as comfort food, “although occasionally I get really crazy with fancy food and Cajun and all kind. We emigrated from Europe through Pennsylvania and a family favorite is a Dutch-influenced apple cobbler that’s served as a meal—it’s a huge deep-dish pie with apples and homemade crust made with a little bit of vinegar to keep it flaky. It’s served with milk poured over it.” (Like good cooks everywhere, Anderson can’t resist offering a bit of advice: “Don’t use Macintosh apples because they tend to be mushy,” he cautions. “Rome is better for the texture and tartness.”)
For his wife, Dianne, and their three teenage children, Anderson whips up favorites like bananas foster and chicken pot pie made from scratch. He bakes his own bread from his mother’s recipes. And when he and Dianne are invited to friends’ homes for dinner, he’s been known to bring his own pots and knives and cook the meal. “I actually have a chef’s apron, which drives her crazy,” he says.
Anderson says that once he retires, he’d like to go to cooking school.
“We humans are attracted to the social interaction of breaking bread,” he says. “That is why healthy comfort food is important to my style of cooking. While I can cook exotic dishes and desserts, I believe in the social interaction with comfort food. It’s like coming home.”