Hi, I’m Renata…


Veronika Hartmann will one day be hailed for the great works of art that hang in walls around the world. I was lucky enough to enjoy a fruit that fell off her vine for Renata’s Kitchen when she was 7 years-old. This is a photo of Veronika Hartmann who painted my Renata’s Kitchen logo for my first website!! “I picture veggies floating over my head” was all I said to her. This is the work of art she produced. Picasso would be proud. Her mother is proud. God is proud. I am honored.

My name is Renee Gough. Friends and family (that’s you) call me Renata. I’m a freelance writer, food enthusiast, and mother of three grown kids.

About 25 years ago, I met a young Welsh man named Peter in a bar in Chicago. I invited him to come to my “Friendsgiving” turkey dinner the following night. Two months later, we moved to London. We got married later that year. We spent a few years getting to know one another before having three kids. We never spent any time planning anything out.

Somehow we raised our kids the first half of their lives in England, the second half back here in the great city of Chicago and its environs. People talk about taxes and politics and cheaper states. I fought for years to get back to the place where we first fell in love, and I never want to leave. Traveling is great. But there is something about getting high on LSD. Hey, I mean Lake Shore Drive!

My column, ‘The Mediocre Mom’ struck a chord with parents everywhere when it was first published in 2009. The truth of the matter is that there are no mediocre moms; only moms who feel mediocre sometimes! Stumbling through motherhood can bring you to your knees, make you laugh, make you cry and wonder how it all went wrong.

It is usually at this moment when a cute, fat, pink baby enters the grocery store and you pine for that sweet baby smell again. Put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee, and release the tension in your shoulders caused by teenage trauma, work stress, and unexplained weight gain. Motherhood….nobody gets it right. But we will all die trying!

Throughout my life, no matter what the conversation, somehow I steer the topic straight back to food. To make ends meet, I sold cars for a while. I’m pretty sure I talked about food the whole time and somehow topped the sales rankings. I grew up in a restaurant family, so I hustled some side gigs catering families in the neighborhood with some of the same recipes on this site. But my magic pen called me back to follow this obsession and share recipes, stories, and interviews.

Most of the people who helped me design, build, or create art for this website are my dear friends. My main financial backer is my husband, Peter. He’s either pulling his hair out from stress doing a job nobody understands (interest rates are involved), or he’s riding his bike indoors, outdoors, mainstreets or mountains. Our marriage feels rather retro. I wish I could say I was as successfully empowered as my grown kids are.

On the other hand, that’s one fine return on investment from a turkey dinner!


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