CARLA HALL BOOK SIGNING AT LAC-GAITHERSBURG
Saturday, November 10, 2012 from 12:00noon-1:00pm
Not long ago, America fell in love with a popular DC caterer as she cooked her way into the season five finals of Bravo's Top Chef. With her trademark warmth and pizazz, she proved to be an unforgettable presence on TV, and soon after, was voted Fan Favorite of the 2011 Top Chef All-Stars season. Hall now co-hosts ABC’s daily lifestyle series The Chew. We’re thrilled to share with you Hall’s debut cookbook; the title perfectly captures her signature food philosophy: COOKING WITH LOVE: Comfort Food That Hugs You (Free Press Hardcover / November 6, 2012 / $30.00). Hall believes that the only way you can make memorable and nourishing food, even if it’s as simple as Barbecue Chicken Salad, is to cook it from the heart.
Hall grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and credits her grandmother’s love of cooking and the rich Southern food traditions she passed down as her main inspirations in the kitchen. As she says, “Every week of my childhood, I was smothered with a giant food hug at my Granny’s Sunday supper.” Hall’s unique take on soul food has expanded since those days, and her travels around the world since childhood have taught her that comfort can be drawn from all types of cuisines. COOKING WITH LOVE is a collection of her all-time favorites; Hall calls it, “an ‘all you’ll ever need’ repertoire of global comfort food.”
From country classics with a fresh spin like Country Greens and Chicken Pot Pie to simple savory dishes like Rustic Mushroom Tart and Curried Beef Dumplings, to very special dessert offerings such as Butterscotch Mousse with Vanilla Salt served in Almond Tuiles (all of which are available for excerpting), COOKING WITH LOVE has something for everyone with Carla’s beautiful, delicious, easy, and affordable recipes that revolutionize comfort food in healthful and surprising ways. And her enthusiasm for her work is evident from the first page and the fun “Catering Like Carla” tips that are peppered throughout.
LAC will host a book signing with Carla Hall on Saturday, November 10 from 12:00noon-1:00pm. This is a book signing only with a first-come, first-serve basis. Limited books will be for sale on site from Politics & Prose ($30.00). Please feel free to bring your own book, they go on sale on Tuesday, November 6th. (Books only for signing).
Missy Carr - CAP '96
Missy Carr was recently featured in The Montgomery County Gazette as the chosen "Food Truck" for Takoma Park. Her truck "Go Fish", provides a wide variety of seafood including "mahi-mahi tacos" and lobster rolls". On the first Friday night Missy rolled into the Takoma Park parking lot she sold300 entrees to more than 100 people before she ran out of food. See the entire article http://www.gazette.net/article/20120716/NEWS/707169983/0/gazette&template=gazette
Turner Jenkins - CAP '12
One of L'Academie de Cuisine's current students was interviewed last month (June 2012) by the Christian Science Monitor on his decision to attend LAC rather than College. Turner jenkins is currently doing his externship at Bibianaosteria where another LAC grad, Nick Stefanelli is the Executive Chef. http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/2012/0617/Bachelor-s-degree-Has-it-lost-its-edge-and-its-value
Carla Hall – CAP ’96
“Top Chef” Finalist/"Top Chef AllStars" Finalist Co-Host ABC's "The Chew" Executive Chef/Owner – Alchemy by Carla Hall, Washington, DC
L'Academie de Cuisine graduate, Carla Hall was a contestant on Season 5 of “Top Chef” New York and on the first installment of "Top Chef All Stars". She is always a fan favorite and a gracious lady who relied on her formal French training at LAC that carried her through the stiff competition to make it to the finals on this series. . Since her appearances on Top Chef, Carla has gained recognition as a Co-Host of ABC's entertainment show "The Chew". Once again a fan favorite, Carla is quick with a quip and has a great sense of humor. Carla, a native of Nashville, TN, is also the Executive Chef and owner of Alchemy by Carla Hall in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Howard University 's Business School with a degree in Accounting. After spending two years at Price Waterhouse and acquiring a C.P.A. certificate, she shifted gears and moved overseas to seek the runway lights as a model in Paris , Milan , and London . During her time in Europe , Carla quickly fell in love with the art of food. She returned to the US and completed her culinary studies in the Professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine in 1996. Carla served her externship at the Henley Park Hotel where she was promoted to Sous Chef, and in May 1997 she joined The State Plaza, as Executive Chef. She then moved to The Washington Club, a private social club, in September 1999, as Director/Executive Chef.
In 2003, Carla left The Washington Club to start her own catering/private chef company – Alchemy Caterers. At Alchemy, Carla is fiercely determined that they pay attention to where their ingredients come from and celebrate the farms in the Chesapeake Bay area that produce them . She is committed to purchasing fruits/vegetables, meats and poultry from the finest local farmers around. Carla's food balances the heart and soul of the South and the refinement of her classic French training. She enjoys creating memorable comfort dishes with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Carla approaches each event as an opportunity to make a connection with the client and change the way they experience food. She firmly believes “If you're not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation.”
Carla has recently changed her focus from catering to producing a line of sweet and savory petite cookies. The ultimate plan is to open a café in a particular location in the West End neighborhood of DC, which is not ready yet.
Carla has taught cooking classes at Sur la Table, L'Academie de Cuisine, and Montgomery College , as well as team building classes at different venues in the DC metropolitan area. In addition to making guest appearances on public television, Carla competed on The Food Network cooking series “FoodFight.” For the last seven years Carla has split her time between catering and private cheffing in various parts of the country and abroad. Carla also has taught Recreational Cooking Classes at L'Academie de Cuisine. She is an active member of Les Dames d'Escoffier, as well as a former Board member. www.alchemybyCarla.com
Peter Smith, CAP '91
Chef/Owner PS7 Restaurant, Washington , DC
I've been involved with food for as long as I can remember,” says Peter Smith, a 1991 graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine's Professional Culinary Arts Program, and Executive Chef and Owner of PS7 in Washington , DC.
Pete chose L'Academie because of the intensity and short duration of its professional program. He would come to school during the day and then work at his restaurant job in the evening. “I worked all through school, I can't remember a time when I wasn't working.” He completed his externship at The Occidental with well-known chef and restaurateur Jeffrey Buben, before he moved with Buben to Vidalia in 1993. Pete became Executive Chef in early 1998 and worked to propel Vidalia to four-star status during his tenure there through the summer of 2004.
He credits L'Academie with teaching him the fundamentals of classic French cuisine. “My friends and I would go out to eat and quiz each other on the [Repetoire] ( Le Repetoire de La Cuisine by Auguste Escoffier ). You can't go wrong with the classics.” He also says he learned to fight for his space and his pots and pans, “Just like in the real world. You can't waste time messing around if you want to get serious in this business.” In 2004, Smith departed Vidalia to focus on two projects: the birth of his daughter, Lucy, and the creation of a concept that would culminate his experiences with a modern edge -- PS7, opened in Fall 2006. Here, he expresses his flair for taking one ingredient and extrapolating as much from it as possible. Guests experience his innovative culinary artistry through dishes such as lobster and Hen of the Woods mushrooms combined with unexpected ingredients -- like popcorn!
Of his dual role as chef and owner Pete says, “Everyone told me it would be hard…I knew it would be hard, but honestly, no matter how hard you imagine this job might be, multiply that by 3!” When asked how he runs his kitchen he says with a smile, “Anticipate what can go wrong and stay in front of the problem. Make lots of lists. And a little OCD never hurts either. You have to maintain a thick skin in this business, but you also have to remember that it is an honor and a privilege to work in this industry. Over the past several years Washington , DC has continued to climb among the ranks of the major "food" cities, but there is still progress to be made. I am committed to working hard to making PS7 a place for all to enjoy and to doing my share to keep DC's restaurants a shining star on the food map.”
Pete regularly hires externs to work at his restaurant on both the line and in the pastry kitchen. Advice he gives to those externs, “Shut up and listen,” he says with a smile. On advice he wishes he were given as an extern, “Shut up and listen.” Pete often returns to L'Academie to give cooking demonstrations to professional students, to serve on the Chefs Roundtable Advisory Team and is the reigning champion, two years running, in L'Academie's annual Chef's Challenge competition. www.ps7restaurant.com .
Shannon Overmiller – CAP '02
Executive Chef – The Majestic, Alexandria , VA
Chef Shannon Overmiller always dreamed of cooking professionally and now after making the climb through several restaurants she is the critically acclaimed chef at The Majestic in Alexandria , VA. The restaurant specializes in a Virginia-fare menu created by Shannon. She is part of a team of women running the fourth restaurant project in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia owned by acclaimed, Chef Cathal Armstrong, of Restaurant Eve.
Chef Overmiller began her professional career as a bartender and waitress at Austin Grill in Washington , DC. Realizing she craved more experience in the kitchen, she then made the shift to Café Atlantico, owned by the renowned Chef Jose Andres, where she worked as a line cook while attending L'Academie de Cuisine 's Professional Culinary Arts Program. In 2002, she graduated from L'Academie and accepted a position at Ristorante Tosca under the direction of Chef/Owner Cesare Lanfranconi . At Tosca , she quickly moved up from line cook to pastry chef and then to sous chef. After three years, Chef Lanfranconi called Cathal Armstrong on Chef Overmiller' s behalf. That call soon brought her to Restaurant Eve, one of the most highly awarded restaurants in the Washington area. Chef Overmiller credits Chef Armstrong for instilling in her a love of and knowledge about the importance of local vendors and sourcing from local farms, along with helping her to hone her technical culinary skills.
One of the reinvention elements she is most proud to be a part of is The Majestic's monthly crafted "Nana's Sunday Dinner." Initially inspired by Chef Armstrong ' s dinners growing up in Ireland , Shannon has taken them one step further by using the month itself as inspiration. During each month, she creates a menu that reflects the home-style atmosphere and emphasizes the importance of families sitting down to share a meal together. It's a prix-fixe menu featuring dishes like fried chicken and pork roast, along with side dishes and a dessert, all intended to be shared between four friends or a family of four. This ensures regulars of the original Majestic, that its memory and tradition are surely re-inspired in the newest version of an old favorite.
As a 2004 Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation award recipient, Shannon had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Italy and learn about ingredients and cooking techniques. She has proven herself in many kitchens and now, as the executive chef of The Majestic, she continues to use and expand upon the skills she has developed throughout the years. www.majesticcafe.com
Joe Raffa CAP ‘97
Executive Chef – Oyamel , Washington , DC
In 2006, Joe Raffa became the head chef at Oyamel in downtown Washington , DC . That appointment was the culmination of a journey that started with his graduation from the Professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine in 1997. Before arriving at Oyamel , he enjoyed a five-plus-year tenure at Alexandria 's Majestic Café beginning as sous chef and moving to the position of chef . As chef he oversaw the restaurant's daily operations.
Prior to Majestic Café, Chef Raffa spent time at Oyamel 's sister restaurant in Penn Quarter, Café Atlantico, starting there as a line cook in January of 2000 and becoming sous chef seven months later. He also served as garde manager and line cook at Equinox and as line cook and sous chef at the historic Morrison Clark Inn . One highlight of his career was cooking for Café Atlantico 's dinner at the James Beard House in 2002. He also assisted Patrick O'Connell for Inn at Little Washington's effort for the James Beard Foundation's 99th birthday dinner.
The culinary field is a passion for the chef, and an interesting second career. He previously worked for nine years at the US Government Accountability Office and holds a College of Naval Command and Staff Diploma from the US Naval War College and a B.A. in international affairs from American University! www.oyamel.com
Virginia Willis – CAP '94
Author, Television Producer and TV Personality
Virginia Willis, a 2004 graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine's Professional Culinary Arts Program is the author of the acclaimed cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y'all! Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2008). A 1994 graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine's Professional Culinary Arts Program and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne , Virginia produced Turner South's Home Plate and the DVD Shirley Corriher's Kitchen Secrets Revealed! Previously she honed her attention to detail as the Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart Living Television where she supervised the food segments for the Emmy-award winning television show. With MSLTV, Virginia was also responsible for preparing private meals and events for Martha and her guests -- including among others, President Clinton, Aretha Franklin, and Julia Child. As Executive Producer for Epicurious on The Discovery Channel, she traveled the world taping fantastic stories about food - from harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano to making authentic mustard in Dijon .
She is a featured chef in Atlanta Cooks at Home , tester and editor for The All-New Joy of Cooking , author of Pasta Dinners 1,2,3 , co-author of Home Plate Cooking , and weekly writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution . Her work has also appeared in Country Living , Family Fun , and Edible Atlanta .
She has appeared on Real Simple Television, Martha Stewart Living Television, Home Plate, and in TV commercials for Duke's Mayonnaise and Springer Mountain Farms All-Natural Chicken. As a nationally recognized culinary professional her client list includes The Atlanta Bread Company, Char-Broil, The Coca Cola Company, Denny's, Disney World, Fresh Express, Logan's Roadhouse, LongHorn Steakhouse, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Texas Dairy Queen, Texas Roadhouse, Waffle House, Whole Foods Market, and WingZone. Virginia will also be teaching at L'Academie de Cuisine in Fall 2009.
Virginia is a president of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, a member of The Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, Georgia Organics, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Southern Foodways Alliance, and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. www.virginiawillis.com.
Neil Wilson – CAP '04
Personal Chef and Cooking Instructor
Neil Wilson, a 2004 graduate of L'Academie's Professional Culinary Arts Program, always had a passion for cooking. He is currently a Personal Chef after completing his externship and working at the James Beard Award winning Palena restaurant in Washington , DC . Neil's culinary education began when he was a young boy. His mother married a farmer, and Neil learned to make fresh bread, sausage and fresh pasta. In high school, Neil was the primary cook for family dinners and this continued to fuel his love of cooking.
But Neil did not immediately go into the culinary field. He chose the “safe” path of joining the U.S. Army and spent 20 years in tactical combat units finishing up his Army career with 2 years at the Pentagon. As he prepared to leave the Army, Neil knew he wanted to cook and wanted a structured, classic European curriculum. Since he already had a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree, he chose L'Academie de Cuisine's Professional Culinary Arts Program and graduated in 2004. “From what I know of other schools, I learned more in the 6 months I spent in the classroom than most other students learned in the first two years they were at school” said Neil.
Neil began his externship at the highly acclaimed Palena Restaurant in Washington , DC under the direction of Chef Frank Ruta. He found that what he learned at school was reinforced daily at Palena. Here, he learned how to deal with stress more so than in the Army. His organizational skills improved immensely and he loved his experience. After two years, he left Palena to spend more time with his wife and to open his own Personal Chef business – Neil Fletcher Wilson, Personal Chef Service.
Neil is currently a busy personal chef working at least 4 days a week. He thinks he has the perfect job and says he often uses the skills he was taught at L'Academie. “Actually this is a very rewarding career. When I heard others talk about it I thought I would have to give up what I learned in school. I get to do everything I learned in school and my clients are very appreciative.” One of the most important parts of this job is balancing the importance of each client “You can have powerful, important clients and single parents, retired people, etc., and you want to keep them all in balance and keep a viewpoint that everyone is important. “
Neil recently received his Certified Personal Chef accreditation through the United States Personal Chef Association. “I get to meet all types of people in all different settings” says Neil. As a personal chef, the main job everyone thinks about is going into people's homes and cooking a week's worth of meals. In addition to his home clients, he teaches recreational cooking classes at L'Academie and he gives private cooking lessons, does Corporate Team Building workshops, Private Parties for 2 to 150, and Medical Recovery (if someone breaks a hip, Neil will cook meals for a week over the course of the recovery).
He thinks the hardest part of this job in the beginning was developing a payment structure. “You get so excited when someone wants to hire you that you can tend to underestimate what a fair price is. Now if I think the price is too low, I turn it down – after educating the person, of course.”
Harriet Siew CAP ‘99
Culinary Producer, Food Network TV, New York , NY
With a degree in Philosophy from Boston University , Harriet Siew began her professional life in the banking industry. After several years traveling overseas, she came to Washington , DC in 1995. Upon arriving she began contemplating her next steps. Would it be law school or business school? “I had never thought of the culinary arts as a career,” she says, but realizing she spent most of her spare time in the kitchen, the choice was obvious. Harriet enrolled at L'Academie and completed her externship with Chef Brian McBride at the Park Hyatt. She graduated from L'Academie's Culinary Arts Program in 1999 and had two revelations. First, she loved the industry and working with people who loved food. Second, she didn't want to be a chef.
Staying true to her revelations, Harriet went to work for M. Young Communications, a PR/Special Events firm located in Manhattan . Her clients included Bon Appetit Magazine and the James Beard Foundation. After September 11, 2001 she went to work for the 9/11 fund, Windows of Hope, a non-profit organization that raised funds for the families of foodservice workers lost at the World Trade Center. After a year, Harriet heard that a food-related television network was in need of some behind-the-scenes culinary expertise.
Harriet says she was simply in the right place at the right time. She also had the right experience to land the job of Culinary Producer for Food Network TV. She works hand-in-hand with the Food Network kitchens and production staff doing everything from recipe testing, to writing action scripts and culinary tips for shows. She also works closely with talent on everything from tweaking their recipes to supervising all things food on their sets . Harriet contributes towards the authenticity of what is seen on Food Network and is proud to call upon her classical culinary skill set each day. “Trends come and go…You can always learn those, but the classics stay with you. They are the first building blocks of your career.”
Preparing for the next season of “The Next Food Network Star”, Harriet advises aspiring stars, “Don't try to do too much or be someone else. You need to identify what you do well, find your niche, then package yourself well so that you can relate your expertise to the audience. Don't try to do it all.”
Since arriving at Food Network, Harriet has been profiled in both Kiplinger's and Working Woman magazine as someone who has found her dream job. When asked by L'Academie if indeed she has found her dream job, she replies, “Yes…For now.”
Harriet lives in New Jersey with her husband and 2 daughters, Sydney and Ella, both of whom love their oxtail soup as much as their mac n' cheese.