#SCBDEvent Recap: Review with the crew at Johnny Utah’s, NYC

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About two weeks ago I had the pleasure of having the “Review with the crew” event which included seeing the Bar-Top Bandit’s at Johnny Utah’s in NYC. Our beer writer, Stephanie, her boyfriend Eric, and one of our new team member’s Alexandra joined me. Johnny Utah’s is a fun, country-themed restaurant & bar in the heart of Rockefeller Center.

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We got in just in time before the Bandits started performing and decided to order some of their $5 margaritas, beer, nachos, and wings. We enjoyed all our appetizers– the nachos were the perfect side for all of us. We decided to try the BBQ wings and they were cooked to perfection and had just enough kick. After downing a margarita or two, I had the craving for Mac ‘N’ Cheese and it was probably some of the best Mac ‘N’ Cheese that I’ve had because it was so cheesy and not too heavy on breading. It was also the perfect amount.

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It was the perfect night out, filled with food, fun, and entertainment. I also got to interview, Theresa Fowler, ‘The Boss Bandit’ and got the dish on their performances at Johnny Utah’s every Wednesday and more!

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SCBD: When did the Bandits start?
TF: I created the Bar-Top Bandits in September, 2010 with childhood friend Everett Brothers. It started as a fundraiser for an amazing soldier, SPC Brendan Marrocco, who lost his arms & legs in Iraq. The event was such a success, it led to us helping out other local charities and organizations, which resulted in us expanding our show to what it is now!
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SCBD: Where do you perform?
TF: We have been touring the Northeast, rocking bar-tops from Times Square to the Meatpacking District in NYC, to Hampton Beach, NH & Asbury Park, NJ!
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SCBD: What should we look forward to at Johnny Utah’s?
TF: Killer Female Vocalists and Dancers from the Broadway stage to the iTunes charts performing in NYC’s Hottest Country Western Bar!
SCBD: What’s your favorite dish at Johnny Utah’s?
TF: Bandit favorites are “The Buffalo Bill,” “The Calamity Jane” Cubano, the Nachos, the Southern Hushpuppies and the Hot Utah Wings.
SCBD: The best cocktail?
TF: We’re whiskey girls at heart, but we hear Johnny Utah’s bartenders make a mean Blue Long Island! They’ve got the best staff around, and we have a blast with them at every show!
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SCBD:  What makes the Bandits different than any performers?
TF: The Bar-Top Bandits are a unique nightlife event with some of the most talented female performing artists in New York City. We are a boot-stomping, hair-flipping, bottle-tossing, girl-powered show with the hottest and most unique approach to nightlife entertainment. Not only do our Bandits have powerhouse vocalists and insanely choreographed routines, but they specialize in mixology and hospitality. Pushing liquor and beer sales throughout the show results in nightly revenue boosts for venues who book the Bandits!
Don’t have plans for tomorrow night? Make sure you go to Johnny Utah’s and see them perform. Also, don’t forget to ‘like’ the Bandit’s on Facebook, here.
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#SCBDExclusive: Interview with Abbey & Lindsay, Owners of Cake Couture NJ!

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Cake Couture NJ is a home-based custom cake company founded by two Jersey girls from my hometown of Howell, Lindsay Mauser and Abbey Lanz. Last time I was home I had the opportunity to interview them on the company, their cakes, and more!

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SCBD: How long have you been baking and cake decorating?

CCNJ: We’ve been baking as long as we can remember. We started getting into cake decorating by taking classes at Michael’s when they had them locally. Abbey received her degree in pastry from the Culinary Education Center of Monmouth County in 2011 where she performed in pastry competitions too. She’s always been more passionate about cakes rather than general pastry, you can see it in our work.

SCBD: Who came up with idea to start Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: We started making cakes for family about 4 years ago and then came up with the name and really started our business three years ago. When we first started it was Abbey and my (Lindsay’s) sister Erin but Erin wasn’t as passionate about it after a while so I stepped in and we’ve been successfully working together since. We feel that our cakes aren’t just any cakes so we felt that Cake Couture was the perfect name for us.

SCBD: What is special about your recipe compared to others?

CCNJ: Well, you can’t really compare us to any other cake or cupcake out there. We’re very creative and are constantly coming up with new recipes to try. We love coming up with new recipes for flavors we like.

SCBD: I’ve seen pictures of your cakes and the artwork looks so professional. How did you learn this?

CCNJ: We learned the most by doing it all the time and through trial and error. It’s all about finding the right temperature, etc.

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21st birthday beer cake

SCBD: What’s a new flavors are you working on?

CCNJ: We are currently working on summer flavors, our latest creation is working on some summer cocktail cupcakes like margarita, and more!

SCBD: What’s the most popular cake flavor order you get?

CCNJ: Our vanilla with vanilla butter cream and red velvet with cream cheese frosting are our most popular.

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Cupcakes with faces of Aunt & Grandma

SCBD: What’s the most unique order you’ve had?

CCNJ: Our most unique order so far was for cupcakes with our client’s grandma & aunt’s faces on them. It took a lot of work but it was fun to do and rewarding at the end.

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21st birthday cake

SCBD: What was your first order? Who was it for?

CCNJ: Our first order was for a 21st birthday at a big banquet hall, we were pretty nervous but it was a success. The cake had pink quilted zebra print on it.

SCBD: What’s a quote you both live by?

CCNJ: “She who leaves a trail of glitter, is never forgotten.”

SCBD: What’s Cake Couture NJ‘s motto?

CCNJ: “Made with Love” which we always have on all of our orders and “Edible Art For Magical Moments”.

SCBD: Where do you see Cake Couture NJ in five years?

CCNJ: We have high hopes and would love to be doing bigger events and have it turn into our full time job. We are looking forward to having bigger orders and to be in demand in the tri-state area. We are  working with the Ronald McDonald house on their event in May and donating a cupcake tower to their silent auction on May 19.

SCBD: Last, what do you want SCBD readers to know about Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: Nothing is impossible for us, we are willing to take any order. We take our time with every order and are very critical of our cakes. We do consultations and tastings for cakes for any event.

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Harry Potter cake

Make sure you like Cake Couture NJon Facebook  follow them on Twitter @CakeCoutureNJ! I’m definitely looking forward to working with them more because they have such a great thing going!

Cheers– let’s eat cake!

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#SCBDExclusive Interview with Executive Pastry Chef & Playing with Fire star Julie Elkind!

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Two weeks ago, E! premiered a new show, Playing with Fire which is based on the lives of some of the heavy hitter’s in New York’s culinary scene such as Candice Kumai, Anna Boiardi, The Koch twins, and Julie Elkind. With her drive and motivation at the age of 26, in four years Julie became the Executive Pastry chef for the ESquared hospitality group and  just recently took on the position as the Executive Pastry Chef at Executive Chef/Partner  Michael Ferraro’s Delicatessen in SoHo (see her intro in the show in the clip above). I spoke with Julie and we discussed life, her path to success, favorite dessert to make, new position at Delicatessen, and of course, Playing with Fire.

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SCBD: You’ve been doing pastry for a while now, who influenced you to get into it?

JE: It’s been in my family ever since I can remember. I grew up around some really great home cooks, we’d always be working on different projects in the kitchen. It’s amazing to do pastry for a living. I never really feel like I’m working because it’s a labor of love.

SCBD: In the show, Playing with Fire we see that you are always out to prove yourself, did this start when you were back in school?

JE: I was always great at Science & English in school. Math was never my strong point until I was able to bring it into pastry and use it everyday. I always felt like I had to prove to my parents that I could do well since they set such a high bar for me. The most important for me to prove something to is also myself. I am always challenging myself with new concept and ideas that the mainstream may not accept right away. I’m still always learning everyday and feel even as a veteran being in the industry thus far I still have to prove myself in the kitchen. I also think its important that people in the industry listen to the next generation of chefs and our ideas.

SCBD: Where did you go to school for pastry?

JE: I attended the Culinary Academy of New York which is now the Star Career Academy of New York. During my time there I learned a lot of basics and everything to prepare for my hands-on experience in the kitchen.

SCBD: When you started did you ever imagine you’d come this far?

JE: I believe when you start doing anything you love you want to come far and I always wanted to be a successful pastry chef. I never imagined the show would come about but I’m always making sure I am staying humble. In my opinion, staying humble is the key to the growing and creating process.

SCBD: What advice would you give to aspiring pastry chefs?

JE: Never rush yourself. A lot of my generation feel that they have this sense of entitlement that they will be a famous chef once they are out of school. It may look easy but it’s not, it requires time and must be a labor of love. They should be patient and keep creating their own ideas.

Also, I believe its important to never rush into a job that your not ready for. If you don’t think its meant for you, wait your turn and take a job when the time is right. That was some of the best advice someone gave me. Never be afraid to ask questions and never assume. Always use your commonsense especially in the kitchen. You gain your place and respect in the kitchen by hard work.

SCBD: At the young age of 26, you’ve gained so much success and recognition as a pastry chef and now with Playing with Fire. What advice do you have for millennials on the path to success?

JE: I am always giving my staff tough love as a manager but I always give them encouragement when they do something worth rewarding. I just want them to be able to teach other chefs what I taught them. Staying humble is key and you must believe in your own food or brand. Being a pastry chef is what I always wanted to do. I personally find success when customers are enjoying the food I create. I want my food to bring a sensory and memory connection to them that may not necessarily be a food trend. Any dish I make is something I am personally proud of and would not sell it if I wasn’t.

SCBD: On that note, congratulations on your new position as Executive Pastry Chef for Delicatessen in SoHo. What do you like most about the new position?

JE:  Executive Chef/Partner Michael Ferraro (Delicatessen) has the same style as me just on the savory end so it’s the perfect collaboration. It’s good to work with another chef that’s an equal because we work as a unit. When I took the job my instincts told me it was right and it’s been great to be respected by a fellow chef. It’s a great positive atmosphere because where I can grow.

SCBD: What is your favorite dessert to make at home? On the job?

JE: I love making ice cream and gelato because you can make tons of flavor combinations. I love coming up with new ideas, it’s the best part! I get butterflies when I change a menu because I am so proud and excited of my food. I am always checking to see what is in season by going to the local green market. I am alwayss painting a picture of a new dessert just by spotting a fruit or citrus I can use there. I love taking different flavor profiles on successful dishes rather than just using what worked before.

SCBD: Playing with Fire is really taking off, what should see expect to see from you this season? How does it feel to be part of this successful show?

JE: This season on Playing with Fire you will see what I did at the previous company I worked for to get where I am now. You will also see my constant balance between relationships, time in the kitchen, as well as my social life. You will see how it’s possible to have it all with the right people by your side. I believe you always have to keep pushing through even if you hit a speed bump. You will see how I handle bumps in the road but with strength and endurance I keep moving forward. You will get to know me personally and see some of my stressful moments at home and at work. New York City is a demanding city to live and work in. I don’t want to give too much away but you’ll have to tune in to find out more.

SCBD: Last, where do you see yourself in five years and what are some quotes you live by?

JE: If you asked me five years ago, I’d never imagine I’d be where I am now. I am constantly challenging myself and making sure I serve the best quality desserts. I’d love to work towards getting a James Beard award and being recognized by the James Beard Foundation for my work. I really aspire to be like the previous James Beard award winners who give back and leave a legacy, it’s a lifetime of work.

Since not everyday is the same, I just want to do great work and get recognized for it.

I actually have a few quotes I live by:

“Commonsense isn’t always common”, which I am always saying in the kitchen.

“Do what you love for nothing, and turn it into something”

“Never take a job for money or sell yourself short.”

“The only person who can judge you is yourself”

“Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of anything.”

“Don’t knock it til you try it.”

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You can catch Julie on Playing with Fire on E! at 8PM EST on Friday nights. You can tweet her @JulieElkind & become a fan of her on Facebook, here. Don’t forget to follow Delicatessen @DeliNYC too!

Make sure you use #PlayingwithFire when you tune in! 😀

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#SCBDExclusive Interview with Cheryl Burger, Owner of The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe

This summer I had the opportunity to stop by a bake shoppe I had heard about while I was in school, check out my initial post on The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe, here. One thing I love about it is that you always find the owner, Cheryl Burger at the shop working on her latest cupcake or cake pop creation and to greet new visitors. This year I had the opportunity to interview her where we discussed cupcakes, winning Cupcake Wars, and more.

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SCBD: When did you open The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe?

CB: February 5, 2010

SCBD: Your cupcakes are delicious, have you always had a passion for baking?

CB: I’ve always loved to bake, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would do it for a living. 

SCBD: What’s your favorite cupcake you serve at the shop?

CB: Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Buttercream, simple, delicious, it’s a classic!

SCBD: You are always thinking outside of the box with your flavors, what is the latest cupcake at the shop?

CB: Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream is the newest addition to our cupcake family.  It’s like an Irish Car Bomb, but in a cupcake! 

SCBD: You also have cake truffles that are great. How’d you come up with them?

CB: I found them online a few years ago.  They are bite sized and different.  People have gone nuts for them.  They are great to take to parties and during the Christmas season we shape them like Santa Hats and Christmas trees.  They are so cute!

SCBD: You are always doing community events, why do you feel it’s so important to be in touch and involved with the community?

CB: I was raised to give back.  I have volunteered for various organizations since I was a kid.  To be honest, it never occurred to me not to give back.  I am so fortunate to have the success I have had and I am honored to be able to share that with the community that supports me.

SCBD: Owning a bake shop, you are constantly baking different cupcakes, cakes, etc for different holidays. What’s your favorite holiday to bake for? Why?

CB: Christmas, without question!  It’s the ultimate baking holiday!  Besides all the options and great flavors that Christmas is known for, what is better than Christmas cookies?! I honestly can’t believe I get to bake Christmas cookies for a living, who could ask for anything more.

SCBD: You were on and a winner of Cupcake Wars this year. What was that experience like for you?

CB: The entire experience was surreal.  Just to be picked for the show is an honor, but to win is amazing!  After seeing the show I went there expecting to have my cupcakes ripped apart, but the judges were so kind and had so many nice things to say about my work.  I was blown away!  I am dying to go back, but no word yet.

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SCBD: Has it affected your business for better or worst?

CB: The first few weeks were great in that business was booming, but we had a really hard time keeping up with demand.  We are now properly staffed and able to keep up with the increased demand, which is really my priority.  More business is always great, but you don’t want to disappoint the people who have supported you since the beginning.

SCBD: Have your expectations in the shop changed since you’ve won? How so?

CB:  I have a pretty focused goal for what I want the shop to be, what I want The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe brand to be and how I want to grow.  I don’t think Cupcake Wars changed much, except that I’m meeting growth goals on a shorter timeline than I had originally planned.

SCBD: I am a young professional, what’s the best advice you got as a young professional, from who?

CB: My parents were extremely supportive of this entire venture and they reminded me constantly to stop listening to everyone who tells you that you can’t do something.  Not once did they question my vision or judgment.  It’s unbelievable the number of people who love to share statistics about small businesses failing, or question if you are qualified to do what you are doing.  Some of my own friends and family were and are skeptics.  You just have to ignore it.  Do what you know you’re good at and watch their jaws drop as you clear each hurdle.

SCBD: What advice do you have for the young professionals out there who are looking to start their own business?

CB: DO IT!  I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy, but it is worth it.  This is the time in your life that you can get away with the long hours and hectic lifestyle that comes with owning your own business.

SCBD:  What’s your life motto?

CB: “Look like a girl.  Act like a lady.  Think like a man.  Work like a boss.”

Thank you Cheryl for giving me the opportunity to interview you. If you are in New Jersey make sure you stop by one of my favorite cupcake shops, The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe in Chester, NJ. You’ll be in for a treat!

In honor of the #SCBDAnniversary last week, The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe has agreed to do a cake pop giveaway! Want to enter? It’s easy just become a fan of Small Chick Big Deals on Facebook and our 200th fan wins a dozen!

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#SCBD Exclusive Interview with Marlo Scott, Owner of Sweet Revenge!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Marlo Scott,  the owner of Sweet Revenge, a restaurant with a cupcake and wine bar in the West Village of NYC. Find out how the idea of Sweet Revenge came to life and more as we discussed life, baking, and her path to success.

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SCBD: Marlo, thank you for letting me have this opportunity to interview you. What is your favorite cupcake you serve or still serve at Sweet Revenge? What wine would you pair it with?

MS: The ‘Sweet Revenge’, which is peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache and crumbled peanuts. I’d pair it with an Argentinean Malbec. It tastes like an adult peanut butter & jelly, it’s delicious.

SCBD: Sweet Revenge is a restaurant with a cupcake and wine bar; you serve brunch on the weekend as well as breakfast & lunch during the week. What’s your favorite dish?

MS: My favorite dish is the Cuernavaca Salad with chicken. The truffled mac & cheese is a runner up, too. Our savory oatmeal is also a great brunch dish.

SCBD: I tried Sweet Revenge cupcakes a few weeks ago when I was in the area and it was unlike any cupcake I’ve had. What would you say makes your recipe different?

MS: Our secret is Mexican Vanilla, it is used in all of our cupcake recipes. Our recipes only use quality ingredients.

SCBD: In three words, describe Sweet Revenge for someone who might not have heard of it?

MS: I actually have four words that come to mind- sexy, playful, indulgent, escapist.

SCBD: Prior to opening Sweet Revenge you were working in the corporate world for media companies. What do you love best about having your own business?

MS: I love the freedom I have to take my ideas and bring them to life.

SCBD: On that note, Sweet Revenge is a huge success. You opened the restaurant & wine bar five years ago after being laid off from your job. But unlike most people you had this plan in action. Why do you think it’s so important to have a back up plan?

MS: Sweet Revenge was always in my plan. I am always thinking of different ideas and business plans and I still am.

SCBD: Do you still apply what you used in the media world to your business? How so?

MS: As an in-house banking analyst I had to develop pitches. I was able to use that skill when it came time to present for a SBA loan. When I worked for Time Inc. I lead a sales team which prepared me to lead my own team. 

SCBD: You are constantly speaking at different colleges and universities in the city about entrepreneurship, why do you think it’s so important to give back?

MS: I believe what you put out, you get back. I am grateful I always had mentors to help me. It’s fun to connect people and network. It feels great to be able to return the favor.

SCBD: What’s the best advice you got as a business professional, from who?

MS: Advice I took to heart was that when it comes to picking out a concept make sure it’s something you can live in 24/7. One of my mentors told me, “Sleep on it, don’t respond until you’re calm and level-headed.” In any business you always have to remember to slow down and think about your decisions rationally.

SCBD: What advice do you have for the young professionals out there who are looking to start their own business?

MS: Write a business plan and do your homework– that way you can build it, manifest it and make it a reality. This sets you up for success and strategically helps other buy in and believe in it.

SCBD: What’s the best part of living and working with cupcakes nonetheless in New York City?

MS: Satisfaction in coming here and see people enjoy it. It’s incredibly rewarding when I look at where I came from. I love that I can provide a delicious escape for others. I knew it was possible and now I witness it everyday.

SCBD: What’s your life motto?

MS: When I first started Sweet Revenge my motto was, “The sweetest revenge was to live life happily.” Since then the motto I live by is, “Live life deliciously.”  I believe we all can follow our dreams and make the impossible, possible if we are motivated enough. 

Delicious Brunch at Sweet Revenge:

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#SCBD Exclusive Interview with Aida Mollenkamp, Chef & Author of Keys to the Kitchen

A few weeks ago I was looking at cookbooks with my friend Ashley at Williams Sonoma. We came across Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp and we knew we had to get it! It has 305 recipes, 40 fundamental techniques, and 300 photographs & illustrations! It’s an ideal cookbook for any amateur chef since it covers all the basics.  Before Superstorm Sandy hit, I had the opportunity to interview Aida Mollenkamp about her first cookbook Keys to the Kitchen, life and following your dreams.

SCBD: Hi Aida, thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you and tell my readers about your new and first cookbook, Keys to the KitchenYou have always been passionate about cooking, which eventually led to you studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. What was your favorite experience while at Le Cordon Bleu?

AM: There are so many memories from Le Cordon Bleu that it’s hard to pick one, but they all seem to come down to the experience and interaction that the French culture fosters with food.

One of my favorite moments was when my classmates and I gathered in the middle of the night in order to visit the Marché de Rungis when it opened in the pre-dawn hours. Rungis is one of the largest wholesale markets in Europe and has whole hangars dedicated not just to one animal but to one section of the animal, like offal! It was the first time I really understood that nose-to-tail eating was a very real concept and that the French had been doing it for years.

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SCBD: I’ve been thinking of taking cooking classes so I can be a better cook & writer. Do you think it’s a good idea? Why?

AM: Well, I think that it’s important to learn something new everyday whether it’s a shortcut on your way to work or trying a new food when you eat. I personally really enjoy classes and like working collaboratively so cooking school really gave me a lot. It may not be for everyone but my belief is you build a solid and then you’ll be able to find your own voice, be it on the page or in the kitchen.

SCBD: You’ve had tons of editorial experience, what was the best part of working for a food magazine like CHOW?

AM: That too comes down to the things I learned. CHOW was founded by Jane Goldman who has had an impressive editorial career that’s included Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Wired, and Industry Standard. Her journalistic approach to food reminded us that food writing doesn’t have to be precious and that we can and should talk about it in plain terms. That concept imbued the whole editorial vision and allowed us a lot of creative freedom in our recipes, food photography, and story concepts.

SCBD: You have quite a record and had two shows. Ask Aida which aired on Food Network followed by foodCrafters on The Cooking Channel, what was your favorite part about filming? What was your most memorable segment (on both or either show)?

AM: Oh, the crew would be my favorite part about filming – you get to work with amazingly talented people and it really is a group effort to make a show come to life. As for my most memorable segment, that’s really hard to say as I had some seriously awesome experiences. On Ask Aida, it would probably be one of the first days when I was told to never stop or call cut and to leave that to the producer. I began doing the show intro and had a pan with oil heating on the stove. Well, I went on a little too long and the pan caught fire but I was thinking, “the show must go on.” The producer thought I had a screw loose but I was just trying to follow orders!

On FoodCrafters it’s really hard to say because each experience was really unique. I adored making orange marmalade in traditional copper pots with Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit  because her work is proof that attention to quality ingredients and detail really makes a simple product like a preserve that much more exceptional.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: Those eventually led to you writing your first cookbook, which I bought this past weekend Keys to the Kitchen. It’s a cookbook that covers all the basics that every chef should know along with some delicious innovative recipes. How does it feel to have your first cookbook published?

AM: It’s really quite surreal. Keys To The Kitchen has been over two years in the works yet nothing really prepared me for the publication day. A fellow food writer told me it was like having a baby and, though I haven’t had a child, I do feel like this book was almost as much effort, attention, and work. The fun part is that now I get to travel around and share this book with people and do what I love: encourage people to have fun in the kitchen.

SCBD: All the recipes look delicious, what’s your personal favorite in the cookbook? Which should I start with?

AM: The great thing about Keys To The Kitchen is you can pretty much start anywhere. If you’ve really never cooked before, I’d take it easy and make baked eggs or one of the pastas. If you feel like baking, the Sage-Maple Cornbread is a lot of flavor for minimal effort. And if you want to try something different and a bit challenging, try out the Caramelized Fennel Tarte Tatin.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: Why do you think it’s so important for every chef or just newbie cooks to know basic techniques?

AM: My other love aside from cooking is music, and many a great musician would claim that you can’t make it your own and riff until you know the basics. Those basic techniques function like directions on a compass, without them you wouldn’t really know which way you’re headed.

SCBD: What’s your favorite dish to cook?

AM: That’s a hard question because it’s constantly changing. If I’m in the kitchen, it’s almost always about recipe testing so I don’t have a ton of time to cook just any old thing. I do really enjoy doughs and pastas because it’s a really apparent payoff as the effort and time you put in directly results in the level of quality of the finished product.

SCBD: You have a cookbook tour going on, what should people expect at the tour?

AM: What’s really great about this tour is that I’ve got an assortment of events as we’re doing almost 40 events in nearly 20 cities. I’m traveling with Williams-Sonoma to do cooking demonstrations in a variety of their stores; I’ve been holding cocktail parties in locations such as urban farms; am collaborating with some of my favorite food stores for hands-on cooking classes; and am doing a number of ticketed dinners through mid-December.

My belief is you eat three times a day so you might as well have fun with it, keep in interesting, and know how to make a few things and all these events weave in those concepts.

SCBD: What was the last dish you cooked?

AM: Let’s see, that would be veggie tacos I made for the site yesterday. I have a series called Pretty. Easy. where I teach simple recipes and ways to dress them up or further simplify them and this month will be quinoa, black bean, and caramelized onion tacos.

SCBD: What’s your life motto?

AM: I aim to seek adventures – be it as little as a new nail color or as massive as a trip somewhere foreign – every single day.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone trying to break into the many facets of the food industry?

AM: Well, it’s a lot of hard work so do what you love. Think about why you want to be in the industry – if you like making food gorgeous, you should aim for food photography; if you like food science, maybe a test kitchen is for you – and find people doing those jobs. Ask them what they’ve done and how they’ve gotten where they are. Finally, always be willing to take a bit of risk to go after what you want – I started as an unpaid intern at CHOW because I wanted that badly to be a part of something new and different like CHOW.

SCBD: You’ve accomplished a lot in a few years, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

AM: To be honest, I’m just focused on the next 5 weeks. After that I’m going to need some serious rest and then I’ll start thinking about the long term future.

 Click here to order a copy of Keys to the Kitchen.

Aida Mollenkamp on Facebook & Twitter.

Be sure to grab a copy of Keys to the Kitchen!

It’s a cookbook I highly recommend– happy cooking! 🙂

Why SCBD thinks you should see Robert Irvine Live!

In case you didn’t know I’m a huge fan of Chef Robert Irvine & so is my boyfriend! I also was fortunate to have to have the opportunity to interview Chef Robert Irvine for Jersey Bites before he had his show live in Red Bank, NJ on October 5th!

I figured the best way to tell you all why you should see it is through pictures! I will let you know that the night was filled with cooking, physical, mental, & cooking challenges. As Robert promised in my interview– a robot & of course getting to know him better and on a personal level! We had great seats– 2nd row to the left! It was a great night shared by both my me and Jason (my boyfriend) and let me tell you Count Basie probably smelt the best it ever did!

Here’s a peak of Chef Robert Irvine Live:

Started the show cooking a great piece of fish!

Speaking to the crowd with the lights up in the audience!

Speaking again– in tip top shape!

Getting ready for a challenge!

Telling us a story!

Time for a physical challenge, that was crazy!

It’s #hammertime

Bidding the hammer and proceeds go to the armed forces & vets!

If you are a fan of Chef Robert Irvine, I highly recommend you go to the show! It’s unlike any show you’ll go to and you really get to meet Chef Robert! It’s awesome that he is constantly interacting with his audience and they actually participate in the show! Check out if he will be in a theater near you– here.

For all the Jersey fans– Chef Robert Irvine will be back in New Jersey at Bergen PAC in Englewood, NJ on December 16th. I know I will definitely be there, especially since it’s so close to where I live now! If you plan on going to the Bergen PAC show, you can purchase your tickets, here.

If you’ve gone to the show I’d love to know what you thought of it! Also let me know if you plan on attending the show on December 16th, maybe I’ll see you there!

’til next time! 😀