Maybe it's because Tony Whitmore spends so much time near the ocean--as a junior lifeguard instructor for Los Angeles County--that he seems so calm, both inside the kitchen and outside. Whatever the reason, he is possessed of a natural confidence that characterizes his easygoing approach to cooking and eating.
"I'll try anything," he says. "I have a fairly wide range of tastes and enjoy every type of cooking from fancy to holiday things to outdoor cooking. But I admit that I prefer to cook for a lot of people; I like to work on a grandiose scale.
"If I were giving a dinner party, for example, and could do anything I wanted to, it would be fun to do a great Creole meal--I have a wonderful gumbo recipe--for a big group. I'd hold the party at my family's house in Ceres, a town near Modesto that was founded by my great-grandfather. There would be a Dixieland jazz band for entertainment, and one of my specialties, cherry cream pie, for dessert."
That's not really such a far-fetched fantasy, but more down-to-earth is the Zucchini-Corn Pudding shown at left. Like Whitmore, it's versatile; serve it as an entree with a crisp green salad or as a side dish with grilled chicken. TONY WHITMORE'S ZUCCHINI-CORN PUDDING