Chef Alyssa Chats With Us About Ingredients, Favorite Flavors, And Kitchen Tricks

Chef Alyssa
Photo Courtesy of Chef Alyssa

We have long been big fans of Chef Alyssa over here at QC. She is all over the Charlotte food scene and has been recognized in a variety of local, regional, and national media over the years, like Food & Wine Magazine and Beat Bobby Flay. You can also find her every week on doing her cooking spot on NBC Charlotte. Since it’s the time of year when all of us become amateur chefs – digging through our family recipes and stuffing the fridge with everything from cranberries to collards – we figured there was no better time to chat with Alyssa and get some insight on what’s cooking in her house, how to pick up simple cooking skills, and the ingredients she thinks we can just scrap already.

What is your favorite dish to cook at your own house?
Braises. I love making brisket or slow cooked lamb. Pairing the richness of this kind of comfort food with fresh and gently cooked vegetables is a good healthy meal at my house.

It’s Saturday and you’re going out to brunch with friends in Charlotte. Where are you headed?
One of my favorite brunch spots is Block & Grinder. I love ordering the brussels sprouts, eggs and a nice brunch salad. I also frequent the Asbury and Dogwood.

Number one tip for the at-home cook who is trying to improve his/her skills.
At home tip for managing meals at home is be smart and efficient with your time. If making multiple dishes, get what takes the longest on the stove or in the oven and get then work on prep work for other dishes so everything will come out hot and ready at once. Strategizing like this will give you more time to focus on building flavor and seasoning everything properly.

What do you think is the most underrated ingredient or flavor? What’s the most overrated?
Underrated: radishes, especially cooked. They are spicy yet buttery
Overrated: kale. Its become a buzzword on menus and I would love to see more flavorful greens like turnip, mustard and beet greens. Not to mention, even those more delicate and easier to eat raw in a salad like mizuna and tatsoi.

What is your very favorite fall food—a dish, an ingredient, or a meal?
My favorite fall food is sweet potatoes. There are so many things you can make with them like even julienne it raw and use as noodles. Look for different varieties and varying colors to really dress up your holiday table.

You can find out more about Alyssa and attend one of her local cooking classes from her website: http://www.chefalyssaskitchen.com/