The path to success is often strewn with disaster, especially if you're an aspiring cook.
"I set the kitchen on fire when I was 14, while pan-frying a steak," said Marcy Smothers of Glen Ellen. "I was grounded from cooking for a month."
But that didn't stop this intrepid "food explorer" from continuing to chop and sear her way through classic cookbooks like Irma S. Rombauer's "The Joy of Cooking."
"Coming here in 1990 to Sonoma County was so inspiring," she said. "Like anything else, you get better with time."
In 2006, the TV producer turned radio personality joined forces with celebrity chef Guy Fieri to host "The Food Guy and Marcy Show."
That show, which aired on KZST and 15 other stations for two and a half years, was recently recycled by Smothers into a fun, breezy cookbook packed with tips, trivia and recipes from her own kitchen.
"Snacks: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle," set for release on May 7, grew out of a series of "snacks," or short bites, that Smothers and Fieri recorded to promote their show.
"I wanted them to be legitimate tips," she said. "They were meant to tide you over ... and really make you stay tuned in during breaks."
Written in the form of a riddle or question, the recipes for "snacks" reveal everything from how artichokes resemble a dog's toy (they both squeak) to how to crack an egg (on a flat surface rather than a sharp edge).
It was Smothers' close friend John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, who first suggested she write down the humorous tips.
"These are so good, they should be in a book," he told her. "And I'm going to take full credit."
The idea really took off after Smothers had lunch with cookbook author Mollie Katzen, who introduced her to her literary agent.
"Snacks" was sold to Harper Collins in July 2011, and Smothers started working on the cookbook in earnest in January 2012. She had been raising her two children with her husband, comedian Tom Smothers, but this was the first time that she felt like a real, working mom.
"For seven months, I did nothing but write, and it was very intense," she said. "It felt like a thesis because some of it is very scientific."
Luckily, she already had a collection of 200 cookbooks and a mind that naturally meandered to the next meal.
"On my run in the morning, I'm thinking about what I'm having for dinner," she said. "And I go to the market almost every day."
At the urging of Fieri, she went to boot camp at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, to learn how to develop her own original recipes.
"I had to learn to think differently," she said. "I'm not a food expert or a chef. I'm a home cook."
Smothers also tapped local resources like chef/owner Gary Chu of Osake in Santa Rosa and Sake O in Healdsburg, who helped her develop this sushi "snack": "What can a dead man teach you about tuna?"
"Rigor mortis," Smothers said. "You don't want to cook fish as soon as it's caught. The best flavor is a few days later, post-rigor mortis."