Executive Chef, Craig Barlow comes to us with over 20 years in the food and beverage industry. As an Executive Chef for more than 10 years now, he has developed restaurant concepts from the ground level, operated and managed his own catering business and has created many wine dinners/pairings and themed dinners/events. His formal education comes from The New England Culinary Institute. "NECI was the experience of a lifetime with exposure to a vast range of ingredients, cooking techniques, chefs from all over the world, wines, spirits, management studies and ethnic foods to name a few," says Chef Craig. Craig has lived in Houston, the Texas Valley, Dallas, The Caribbean (Turks and Caicos), Vermont, Florida Panhandle/Coast, California, Missouri, Alabama and Kentucky. The diversity of geographical areas has widened his culinary abilities and product knowledge through diverse ingredients and exposure to gifted chefs. His background focuses on exciting food production, guest/client interaction and superior finished product.
If you were to start a conversation with Al Ippolito about traditional Italian cuisine, he would tell you about countless wonderful hours in a cellar kitchen with his mother who taught him culinary secrets passed from generation to generation.
Al’s parents came from the Italian coastal towns Chieti and Alberobella, Italy, where they were raised on the fruits of the land as well as those from the sea. Learning how to cook when very young helped him from the time he was a teenager, when he worked in kitchens in health care facilities and restaurants, and as a husband and father who cooked for his family, to catering home specialty parties in the DFW area and in Tyler. Al, a professor of communication, loves to teach interactively while preparing traditional Italian dishes. Teaching cooking is Al’s “Amore Mio” (my love). Let’s Cook! discovered Al preparing specialty dishes for an art exhibition. The wonderful food and innovative methods of preparation triggered discussions with Al to prepare similar dishes for our Date Night.
Chef Christian Chavanne is a native of the French Riviera. He began his training at the tender age of 14 and spent 9 years including an apprenticeship that spanned several countries before establishing himself on the US West Coast.
While living in Southern California, Christian became interested in the exciting culinary experiments taking place in Northern California's wine country, so he moved to the Napa Valley to work for the famed Auberge du Soleil Restaurant.
Christian is a culinary consultant, instructor and a television host. Christian has a passion and appreciation for foods of all cultures with a special emphasis on the cuisines of his native Provence and the Mediterranean.
Kathleen is a Marketing Consultant, Social Media Manager, and Advertising Specialist. You may recognize her as a chef and past owner of Larissa House in Jacksonville. If you don't know her then you are going to meet "one dynamic lady" when you come to Let's Cook! To learn how to cook "small" portions in a "big" way.
From an early age, Midge Jackson was at home in the family kitchen. She fondly recalls hger grandmother cooking delicious, traditional Sunday dinner each week for at least 30 of her children and grandchildren. By the age of 11, Midge assumed the cooking responsibilities for her family, including buying the groceries, planning menus, and executing them. She was allowed free rein to experiment and explore new and unusual ingredients and technniques, creating delicious and nutritious meals, finished with fine desserts. At the age of 21, she moved to the orient, where she was introduced to Chinese food. Her special interests include foreign foods of all kinds, bread baking and creating elegant and delicious desserts. Since moving to East Texas, she has explored and enjoyed traditional foods such as pecan pie, sweet potato pie and tea cakes "like Granny used to make."
Valentino is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. His interest in food started from watching his mother cook Cajun dishes, and his grandfather introducing him to his Italian heritage. It wasn't until years later, in the Air Force, where he tested his knowledge with a frying pan. It's because of his upbringing that inspired him to fuse the two together and create Cajun Italian dishes. And with the relationships developed through the Air Force, it broadened his mind on fusing American food with food from other countries. But don't be fooled. He has also become locally known for his gourmet cheesecakes, including a Banana Pudding and Peach Cobbler Cheesecake. Valentino believes your heart should go into every dish, and with passion like this every bite will definitely excite your taste buds!!!!