For David Burtka, paying homage to his late mother started with food

When David Burtka decided to make a complete life change, he had no idea how much fate would come into play. The actor, chef and author of the new cookbook "Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration" joined “Salon Talks” to discuss everything from his best party-hosting tips, to dealing with the loss of his mother. When Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams asked him about his introduction to the professional world of cooking, he shared his story.

“I was living as an actor in LA, and not really having the best time of it,” Burtka explained. Soon after, Burtka’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia, and died 20 days later. After the loss, Burtka decided, “I can't go back to acting and get rejected for stuff I didn't want to do in the first place. So, I thought, what do I love doing? What's therapeutic to me? I love cooking. Whenever I was stressed, I'd make a new stock, or try out a new recipe of a cake.”

Burtka went on to cooking school and realized that his love for food wasn’t the only thing pushing him to pursue a culinary career. “My mom ended up giving me some money in her will. The money turned out to be to the exact cent of what cooking school cost.” It was fate.

Watch the video above to learn more about Burtka’s family connection to food and entertaining. And check out the full episode to hear Burtka’s brilliant tips for hosting a party, which may or may not include disguising KFC chicken as your own.

About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on

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