Paul found his love of the kitchen at an early age, cooking alongside his mother and grandmother. While primarily self-taught, Paul spent time in the kitchen with noted chefs Giuliano Bugialli, Jacques Pepin, and Perla Meyers, and now has over 30 years of culinary experience. After managing the cooking schools and retail stores for The Cook’s Mart and The Chef’s Catalog in Chicago, Paul founded his own culinary business, The Art of Food, in 1986. He currently divides his time between sharing his passion for cooking and teaching in local cooking schools and working as a personal chef/event planner in client’s homes throughout the Chicagoland area. Paul focuses his approach to cooking and teaching around three elements: selection of top quality ingredients, techniques of preparation, and beautiful presentation. Each class features recipes that explore and build upon these elements.
Favorite food memory: Standing alongside my grandmother as she made me a fried egg sandwich every day for lunch during elementary school. To this day, the aroma of melting butter brings that memory to life.
Three items always in Paul’s grocery cart: Wine, garlic, and butter.
Kiley attended culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art with the plans of using her degree, along with her 15 years of marketing and advertising experience to go into restaurant consulting. Funny how that all worked out. After spending time in the kitchen she quickly realized it was a much more fun place to be, and where she wanted to stay. Kiley has been teaching and doing private chef work ever since. There is always an unexpected ingredient to use, an old school technique still to be mastered, or a culture with a deep connection to food to learn more about. And…once she learns it…she can’t help but want to share it with others.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? I would have to couple this question with another…what is the strangest thing you have ever made? I have a family friend who would always share stories with me about making tamales with her mom or her dad’s carne asada over the camp fire. During one of our conversations she mentioned a dish that piqued my interest – tacos de cabeza. Let me translate…cow’s head tacos. It was an “in the kitchen moment” I don’t think I will ever be able to duplicate. Imagine the size of a cow’s head…it requires a pot for the sole purpose of preparing tacos de cabeza. The flavor was rich and gamey and a bit more complex than you would expect. Would I make it again…yes, but I would have to borrow her pot.
What’s the most underrated cooking ingredient? Lemon and it’s zest, if a dish is “flat”…it often does the trick.
California girl Robin Nathan attended culinary school after a successful 20-year career as a national advertising executive and she understands busy working families who enjoy cooking but don’t have all day to spend at it. Her cuisine is all about simple, seasonally appropriate preparations, global flavors, and a naturally light touch. And she loves nothing better than to twist up what she’s learned, combining the authentic with the new and different. Life should be a taste adventure!
Three items always in Robin’s grocery cart: Organic milk (I’ve got an 8 year old), baby arugula and tomatoes.
Best food memory? I have so many... The first time I tasted good olive oil, back in the early ‘80s, the first time I tasted the sour-salty-sweet of Thai food, the row of avocados my grandmother always kept ripening on her window-sill, from the tree in her yard...
Rachel started in the industry 13 years ago as a dishwasher for a cake decorator. She continued to work along her mentor into culinary school. During those years she took on many different jobs, which ultimately led her to run the kitchen and teach full time at Sur La Table. She has had the opportunity to compete in a chocolate competition, as well as assist for the Coupe du Monde Pastry Team USA.
Currently, she now runs her own pastry business called Madeleine and the Traveling Bakeshop, in addition to teaching. She loves to show everyone how easy it is to cook. But she also loves to hear everyone’s stories, and how food places such an important role in it.
What’s your best food memory? This changes a lot for me – and a lot hit when I vacation. But recently, it was this past Thanksgiving. My husband and I just moved into a house in September and hosted that first Thanksgiving. There were over 20 people sitting at one long 18’ table. I love gathering people around the table.
If I weren’t a chef, I would be… A meterologist. I love the weather and watch the weather channel for fun!
Three items always in your refrigerator: Butter, heavy cream, and eggs. My friends and family make fun of me – but you never know when you need to whip a batch of cookies or lava cakes!
A gift of cooking lessons from her husband prompted Brandy to leave her career as a consultant for Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young to train at Kendall College where she earned her culinary degree. Brandy has a passion for teaching cooking classes and lessons, having taught at Parties That Cook, Sur La Table, Flavour Cooking School, and her alma mater, Kendall College, where she developed the curriculum for and led their recreational cooking school program. She enjoys the connection made around food and the energy from the excitement of guests as they create and enjoy food together.
What music do you listen to when you cook? My parents had 1000’s of records and I grew up on the classics – thanks to Pandora, I enjoy Zeppelin, The Eagles and other greats while I cook!
Brandy’s guilty pleasure food: Gummy ANYTHING! From Swedish Fish to Gummy Worms, I am a connoisseur of all things chewy and sugary.