Chef Enedina Andrews
"Working in kitchens is hard work, there's a reason they say if you can't stand the heat stay out of kitchen." - Enedina Andrews
Chef Enedina was introduced to me by Gregory Wertsch, President & CEO of The Clandestine Chef Experience, a one time in-home cooking school located in the Denver area. (I don't think it still exists) Enedina has been cooking professionally for almost 20 years and has opened various businesses, developed menus, catered and been an executive chef.
Chef Andrews also had the fortunate opportunity to have been the personal chef for Bill & Pete Coors who we all know from Coors Beer. She is now cooking for a private family as well as teaching cooking in homes with her partner Greg Wertsch. Enedina says, "We actually teach you how to cook in your very own kitchen with a limited class size of 2 to 8 of your friends, family and guests!"
Here's my interview with Chef Enedina Andrews:
Chef, When did you realize you wanted to be a professional chef?
I realized I wanted to be a professional chef when I started working at the deli and my food started selling even before it could be put in the case. Customers would see it coming out of the oven and buy it before I could put it down. People told me they loved my food.
Who inspired you most as a young cook & what did you learn from them?
My grandma. She never measured anything. We lived on a farm where we had fresh produce, dairy, and meat and nothing ever went to waste. She made a cheese from cows milk that was amazing - to date I've not had anything like it. My fondest memories were being there by her side watching & learning anything I could.
What/Who helped you decide to change careers?
I was in an accident, I couldn't find a job in the profession I was previously in, but a woman who owned a high end deli (we catered to the Broadmoor area in Colorado Springs) hired me. I started as a counter girl & had great repeat customers. After being there for a little over a year the chef was leaving & I asked for the position & was given the opportunity. I am self taught.
Did you attend culinary school and if so where?
No. I was enrolled at Art Institute but I kept getting offers to work in various kitchens so that's what I did. I felt I could receive more experience actually in restuarants. I trained under some wonderful chefs.
What advise would you give a high school student interested in going to culinary school?
Cook as much as you can and get your hands dirty. Be a good listener, don't be afraid to try new things even if you don't like what is being prepared, learn the proper way to cook an item. Be respectful to everyone from the chef to the dishwasher. We can all learn from each other. Working in kitchens can be very stressful but don't lose sight of what your doing if that is you passion.
How were you trained and what was the experience like? Hours, instructors, classmates, workload, etc.
As I said I trained under various chefs, learning different cuisines, and baking so I'm fortunate to have a broad back ground. Working in kitchens is hard work, there's a reason they say if you can't stand the heat stay out of kitchen. The hours are long your on your feet all day, there are so many different personality's, it's stressful, it's hot, but at the end of the day if you love what your doing isn't it worth it.
Can you recall a funny culinary student story and share it with us?
I have a catering story. This was for a repeat customer, It was a small dinner party. She had a pot of water on the stove and asked me to turn on the heat in about a half an hour which I did. I went to see if it had come to a boil unfortunately she hadn't told me I needed to put the water in the pot, so when I checked on the pot I came to find out to my horror the pot was literally melting on her stove it was like liquid solder. I had never seen anything like it neither had she. Did I ever cater for her again? Yes but I learned to check on things from then on.
What was you first job as a professional in the restaurant industry and what was that like?
I was a chef at a deli where we made fresh pasta in 6 different shapes in three flavors, thirteen pasta sauces, items for the case, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and we also had a bakery making different types of breads and freezer items which were big sellers. It was a great place to be and the owner allowed me to do a lot of different types of food which allowed me to develop a well rounded background. It was fun, hectic, stressful, and challenging but I was fortunate to make lasting friendships that I still have today and a career that I love.
How did you come up with the idea for a cooking school for home cooks?
I met Greg Wertsch at a brunch and he told me about his ideas for a new type of school which involved hands-on cooking instruction in peoples own homes. I loved what he was envisioning, he has great ideas. Greg doesn't know how to cook but he is eager to learn. We've taken classes in the area but we wanted to do some thing a little different. That's why we come to your home. The idea being that you are comfortable in your own kitchen, you know where every thing is, and this is where you are going to prepare your meals.
Can you tell us a little about The Clandestine Chef?
The Clandestine Chef Experience is a new concept in culinary education - we've coined the term "edu-catering" to describe what we do. The concept is simple: the finest chefs use the freshest ingredients to teach students who to become better cooks at home. We do this by teaching our students the skills to be confident and comfortable while they cook so that cooking is quick and easy. The not so simple part of the equation is the way in which we have developed our business model so that it can expand quickly across the nation. We have big, big plans.
What can your students can expect to accomplish from the experience?
Our students do not just learn recipes, but we teach them how to great cooks. We do this by teaching the basics, but also how to finesse those basics so that they know how to make substitutions and additions so that they can make their meal their own. Furthermore, we teach our students how to shop for ingredients, learn techniques on knife and cookware use, and make them feel more comfortable in their kitchens so that cooking becomes fun.
What are the top 3 or 4 traits someone should have to succeed as a chef?
- Be organized
- Try new types of food
- Be comfortable making mistakes
What is your favorite style of cooking? What about that style most appeals to you?
Comfort foods, simple dishes that let the natural ingredients come through I was taught that often simple is best, things I grew up with but with a different spin, I've been able to cut the fat and time, which are reflected in the recipes in our cookbook.
What is your favorite cooking gadget?
I would have to say my food processor. It cuts down on a lot of time chopping & slicing, you can use it for different applications from making doughs for baking, to pureeing soups, sauces & making dips.
What 5 cookbooks would you recommend every home cook own?
- Small bites Big nights (Govind Armstrong)
- Tempted: 150 Very Wicked Desserts (Joanne Glynn) These desserts are to die for!and the results are very good.
- The Joy of Cooking. A classic
- Cooking Light 2007 (hard cover edition) 5. Fusion Food (Hugh Carpenter) I was able to take a class with him using some of the recipes in his book.
What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?
Cumin, it adds an earthiness, a little in a dish can make a such a difference
What are your two or three favorite ingredients to cook with because they work so well together?
Fresh garlic, lemon zest, fresh rosemary.
What is the most underrated ingredient in your opinion and why?
I would say any citrus, the zest and the juice (lemon, lime, orange), I cook with a lot of zest & juice. The citrus seems to brighten the flavors of a dish be it savory or sweet. It brings flavors to the fore front
What is your favorite fish dish?
Our halibut crusted with macadamia and Romano cheese. The fish is flaky & moist. The macadamia Romano crust is buttery with out being over powering & it's easy to make.
What are the top 5 cooking tips or suggestions you would give a novice cook?
- Again, being organized.
- Don't be intimated.
- Be willing to try different foods.
- Look at the trends, what is being served in your favorite restaurants, what are the grocery stores selling to make life easier and to keep you coming back.
- I like putting a damp paper towel under my cutting board to prevent it fro slipping.
When cooking at home, what do you like to prepare for yourself?
I like making green salads using seasonal fruits, and homemade dressing, pasta because I can make something with three or four ingredients & it taste like I've slaved in the kitchen all day. Soups now that the weather is colder their quick, filling, easy, you have leftovers & their easy to freeze and have on hand.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe? (please share it with us if you don't mind)
Blue cheese and pear quesadillas with mango salsa
Thank you so much for participating and I hope you enjoyed the interview.
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