Chef Alice Cooking In the News
Learn to Cook with Chef Alice Cooking
By Evelyn Brady, Local Flair Magazine
It’s not very often you hear about a chef you hear about a chef who used to be a stand-up comedian. But don’t worry, Alice of Chef Alice Cooking takes cooking seriously. Thankfully, she has settled here to share her gift with the rest of us who don’t know the proper uses for our different Cuisinart attachments.
“At first I was little hesitating in learning cooking because every time i tried to cook things got really messed up but Chef Alice Cooking Classes are perfect for everyone and you can learn new and exciting ways to cook and can boast your confidence. Every group of people are welcome to Chef Alice Cooking Classes”
“Coming from such an international background, Chef Alice has expertise in many different types of cuisine. Her classes range from the very European “Modern French” and “Tuscan Table,” to the more exotic “Tasting Thailand” and “Indian Regional Cooking.”
On a recent visit to Chef Alice’s kitchen, I snuck a peak at her well-appointed pantry. It contained lentils, different types of rice, her spice rack was extensive and she knew what I was talking about when I asked about 00 Flour (the flour Italians use to make their pasta) and told me where she buys it.
On a recent class covering the Tuscan Table, Chef Alice and her apprentices for the night, (all in matching aprons and equipped with our own heavy duty knives) prepared a savory sweet homemade focaccia to start. We all learned one of her secrets for producing the bread as light as air – she used warm milk instead of water to start the yeast. The result was a salty, sweet, crisp and chewy masterpiece. The rest of the courses we tackled that evening featured a perfect balance of fresh ingredients and simple flavors – very Tuscan indeed.
Chef Alice’s Cooking classes take place in her custom-designed kitchen, which also happens to be in her home. She loves introducing her students to new tastes and encouraging them in developing their knife skills. It is easy for students to take away some design ideas too, as Chef Alice has some of the finest kitchen organization around.
Chef Alice Cooking classes are very reasonably priced and last over three hours. At the end of the lesson, students sit down to the feast that they helped prepare. Her company is also available for private parties, corporate team building activities and basically any excuse you can think of to hang out with a chef as dynamic as Alice. And she doesn’t exclude kids and teens from her teachings either; Chef Alice has an entire class dedicated to tutoring children in the culinary arts and the important basics of cooking.
Chef Alice will Teach Those Who Are Hungry to Learn
by Helen Yanulus, Pocono Record
Alice Colin, better known as Chef Alice, said, “I love spreading my passion about cooking. I want people to feel a kitchen is a place you can feel creative and relaxed, and not dreading cooking as a mundane task. As quick as you can order take out or pizza, you can make a meal.”
Colin offers cooking classes out of her home in Long Pond, one that is surrounded by a white fence where the pickets are in the shapes of forks, spoons and knives. There, in a well-stocked, open-plan kitchen with a student prep area that rests in between the kitchen and dining area, up to eight students find food expression.
For the fast and flavorful vegetarian class, they fill the home with the aromas of a Greek quinoa salad, Hoisin mushroom and tofu stir fry with vegetables and whole wheat pasta with arugula pesto. The Thai class students will spice up their lives with Thai spring rolls, beef salad, Thai coconut curry chicken and coconut rice pudding with mangoes.
Chef Alice Cooking Classes last a bit more than three hours and cost $65 per person.
“We can learn so much about a culture and country through their food,” Colin said. “Food is the common denominator. We all have to eat. And, it comes with so many memories.”
“I was always into cooking. I’d bring in lunch from home, and people would ask, ‘What are you eating? Can I buy some?'” said Colin, who started a side business preparing dinners.
Soon the business snowballed. She began working for a prestigious catering company with politicians and the Miami Dolphins as clients, and learned on the job. She “earned” the position when she walked in, asked for a job and the chef gave her a knife.
Her interview consisted of how precisely and quickly she could cut up an onion.
She mastered techniques by practicing, reading extensively and working side by side with skilled chefs. “It was really trial and error on my own. I travel the world in my kitchen. I’ve never been out of the country except for Mexico,” Colin said.
At another catering company, she worked on the Summit of the Americas, cooking for 5,000 people, including President Bill Clinton, as the Secret Service looked on.
Nearly four years ago, Colin and her husband, Bob, moved to the Poconos to be closer to family and to enjoy the change of seasons.
“(Food) is the greatest expression of love,” Colin said. “It’s an immediate reaction. People say, ‘Ooh!’ or ‘Ah!’ and that’s the greatest compliment you can get.”
Yet the fast-track life where getting away from the phone, e-mail, text messages and other technology allows for a world of constant accessibility doesn’t make room for down time. Mom and Dad both work, the kids are loaded up with activities and the family dinner is a faint memory. Coming home, the question of what to make for dinner is a burden. Colin noted that a recent study discovered that in the United States, people eat out or buy takeout three times a week. “Dining is a social experience. You sit around a table, savor the food and talk about your day,” Colin said. “Dinner is that time to unwind and have fun at the table.” So that table should have good food with nutrients and taste, which is usually absent from takeout or frozen entrees.
Colin is a firm believer in the slow food movement, which is based upon the idea of eating food that is as close to the source instead of food filled with preservatives. “Great ingredients prepared simply will create great food,” she said. She wishes to share that with her students.
“I love making people laugh, inspiring people. I think we’re all social beings, and we crave other people,” Colin said. “We’re growing by leaps and bounds, but not humanistically. I have never heard the term ‘stressed out’ as much as I have in the last five or 10 years.”
She is a champion for bringing back the basics. Making a pizza is as simple as taking flour and adding water and yeast, Colin said. A recent grilled pizza that she made offered a host of toppings, including roasted garlic, ricotta, basil and balsamic onions. Add a healthy spring mix salad with a homemade vinaigrette, without the fillers such as corn syrup.
Her classes explore such options in addition to providing the necessary skills, such as knife handling and setting up a pantry. She also teaches an important lesson: mis en place. This is French for put in place. “Everything is measured out, and that takes the stress out of cooking. You know what you have, what you need and you’re cooking in a calm atmosphere,” she said.
Colin, who will shop at several stores and online, also noted to never shop without a list. She also suggested using weekends to prepare foods to relieve the stress during the week.
That’s when she makes her own granola and compound butters, which both can be frozen. “You don’t have to have a love affair with food and gourmet items,” she said. “But you do have to have a well-stocked pantry.” She always has a prep list for each class that is posted. Students also receive a shopping list and recipes to take with them as well as kitchen safety tips and guidelines. Colin said, “That’s thinking like a chef.”