The Kitchen Widow

Jan 6, 2015

Slice of freshly cooked orange cake on red plateNew week, new possibilities. One gentle step at a time.

This is the mantra of The Kitchen Widow, a web series created by Tembi Locke.

“My life had a big cause. The cause was to keep the person I love so much alive as long as we can. And then, that mission ended.”

Tembi’s husband Saro died several years ago after a decade-long battle with bone cancer.

In her own words via video Tembi describes herself as an actor, a mom, an artist, and a widow. “Yeah, I am a young widow. Widows to me were, personally in my own life, my grandmothers.”

As to dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s death, Tembi says, “No one else in my peer group is having the exact same experience. How do you do this? How do you be out of synch with so much of where society or life tells you you should be at the age of age I’m at?”

“Kitchen Widow,” it turns out, is a common term for a chef’s wife. “Their spouse is lost to them because they’re working under the demands, the highly demanding career as a chef. Of course, now it has a different poignance.”

Tembi created The Kitchen Widow as a place where people may find inspiration, whether they are a patient, a caregiver, or one who is grieving. It’s a place, also, for friends and family to come and understand what to say, how to act, and how to help the one they love who is suffering.

Tembi turned to Sicilian cooking because it was what she knew through her husband and because “it’s easy, it’s accessible, it’s complex, but uncomplicated.” It’s also very forgiving, she says, it’s not precise, which will interest many inexact cooks (we’re raising both of our hands).


Lentils for salad with mint and orange zest

Lentils for salad with mint and orange zest


“I have the privilege of sitting at my mother-in-law’s table for three to five weeks a year and eating everything that comes off her stove top, and let me tell you, it rocks the house.

“I’m trying to approximate a flavor, a palate, a feeling, that I had when we were in the kitchen together and I can’t do that without him standing right beside me, energetically, so I know he’s there.

“I’m coming to the kitchen and coming to cooking to get back something that I feel that I lost in his passing. I lost him but I didn’t have to lose our whole life and parts of my life that I loved with him, I can make into my new life.”

The knowledge Tembi acquired during her husband’s illness and passing is something she now wants to pass on, to help those who are still on the journey or who are now dealing with loss.

“I definitely feel that we have to all tell ourselves that it is okay not to have the answers. It is okay not to know what to say—that is very, very normal, but that not knowing is not the same as not doing.”

“At Kitchen Widow, we can figure it out together…over a great meal.”



Tembi dining with friends; Director of Photography, Gabi Chennisi


The Kitchen Widow, a place where conversation inspires the deliciousness of giving back. We cover life and the sustenance of friendship in times of crisis or transition. So, come for the food; stay for the inspiration. (

The Kitchen Widow website has three videos so far that explains Tembi’s mission and illustrates through an evening meal with friends how to help people through a difficult journey and celebrating the continuation and deepening of these friendships.

A whole section on caregiving is broken down into “Advice to a Young Caregiver,” “Taking Care of Yourself,” “Caring for a Spouse with Cancer,” “Mindfulness and Caregiving,” and “Make a Caregiver’s Day.”

Another menu is about grief with “Tips to Ease the Journey,” “Grief Rituals,” and “Memory Books,” to name a few. The Community drop down is full of ideas for “What You Can Do” and “Show Your Support.” Tembi treads into deep waters with “Communicating in Difficult Times” and suggests ideas on how to treat someone who cannot get away with “Retreat in a Box.” She offers practical advice with “Six Tips for Writing a Note of Sympathy.”

Additional areas are “Inspirational Resources, blog postings and, of course, “Recipes.”


Sicilian Pest Rosso

Sicilian Pest Rosso


The Kitchen Widow is currently involved in a fundraising campaign in order to complete the remaining episodes, which include “Getting Through the Holidays” and “Becoming a Child’s Grief Ally.” For the cost of production, post-production, and all online media, The Kitchen Widow is looking to raise $35,000 by January 26th.

Viewing two of the three videos completed, we found thoughts, words, questions, and advice that we, too, could use as we travel through crises. The Kitchen Widow appears to be a tool the value of which will only increase as we continue on our path, and as time goes on.

To learn more about The Kitchen Widow, please visit:



Tembi Locke; photo by Jenny Walters of Eagle Rock






Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena