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OUR CHEFS

burdette.pngMONICA BURDETTE

Monica Burdette has loved to cook for as long back as she can remember. While her military husband was stationed in Europe in the 1980s, she attended several French cooking schools: École de La Varenne in Paris, Les Mégalithes Cooking School in the Provence region in the South of France (twice), and the kitchen of famous Hotel Martinéz in Cannes. Upon return to the U.S. in 1987, she attended a 3-month Professional Pastry Course at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, California and subsequently held a position as a Pastry Chef at a catering company in San Antonio.

In 1989 Monica and her husband Ray moved to El Canelo Ranch (just south of the King Ranch and just north of the Rio Grande Valley), which has been in continuous ownership by Monica’s family since 1864. In January 1990 they launched The Inn at El Canelo, the first Bed & Breakfast establishment in the area. In the early days, Monica showcased her culinary skills by preparing elegant meals for private dinners, luncheons, and parties The Inn at El Canelo. Monica continues to offer sumptuous meals to overnight guests of The Inn at El Canelo. For details go to www.elcaneloranch.com.

In 1996, Monica was Chairman of the Cookbook Committee for the Museum of South Texas History (formerly Hidalgo County Historical Museum) in Edinburg, Texas, producing Mesquite Country, a cookbook featuring recipes submitted by Rio Grande Valley folks. The following year Mesquite Country was awarded the prestigious McIllheney (the Tabasco Company) Award for best community cookbook in the United States.

Most recently, Monica has published a cookbook of favorite recipes she prepares at The Inn at El Canelo, aptly called “The Inn at El Canelo Cookbook.”


 

ely.pngVANCE ELY

Chef Vance Ely has a wide variety of interest, but his main goal at this time is to educate. His enthusiasm shows when he is sharing his knowledge of flavor profiles, teaching cooking techniques, and enlightens his students with time saving short-cuts.He has the willingness to try just about anything and the wit to keep a table full of guest laughing. Vance started helping out in a kitchen at an early age. His culinary career began in California, where he worked for the Sugar Loaf and then Pepsi Cola Foodservice.

Vance moved back home to the state of Texas in 1992. He continues to work in the food and beverage industries today as an instructor, pursuing his passion for teaching exotic flavors of the world, inspired by 20 years as a military dependent. Visit him at www.chefvance.com.


 

hewitt.pngDARIAN HEWITT

Darian Hewitt. After 12 years in the Army I left to do the one thing that I always wanted - Cook! I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be in the kitchen and now I had found my chance! I worked as a personal chef for several families in San Antonio, Texas. One job that I enjoyed the most as working at the historical San Pedro Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX. This afforded me the opportunity to work with wild game; wild pig, quail, famous Texas whitetail deer and the occasional duck.

I realized that I had a lot to learn about food so I went back to school and worked on a culinary degree at St. Philip's College in San Antonio, TX.Graduating with an Associates in Applied Science, Culinary Arts, I realized that I could go even further with a little more education. The University of Houston, Conrad N. Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Houston, TX, where I earned a Bachelors in Applied Science, Hotel and Restaurant Management.

I spent three years working at Central Market in both San Antonio and Houston in the Cooking School. Working there afforded me the opportunity to work with some great chefs. Chef Darren McGrady, personal chef to Princess Diana; Chef Roland Mesnier, The White House Pastry Chef; George Geary; Nick Malgieri; David Lebovitz; Anya von Bremzen; Anissa Helou; Susana Trilling and Molly Fowler - just to name a few.

I then decided to break-out on my own and have been teaching private classes and working on the critically acclaimed Houston Cooking Show - "All The Right Ingredients" with my great friend, Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva. I have been teaching classes at the Cooking Depot in Cuero, TX where I have taught hands-on pasta and bread classes for adults and children and the summer kids camps among many other classes. I can also be found working in the Crystal Ballroom in the old Rice Hotel.


 

morphew.pngMIKE MORPHEW

I trained as a chef at Westminster College, London, England and then progressed to working in some of the most prestigious hotels in London, the Connaught and the Savoy as well as working in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace cooking for the Royal Family. A move abroad gave me European culinary experience in France and Switzerland. I have owned two fine dining restaurants before moving into culinary education in 1982. I hold the title “Master Chef” in the Cookery and food Association. I have appeared in several television shows and was the BBC radio chef for 5 years in Sheffield. My move to the Smithville / Bastrop area is particularly exciting for me. I fell in love with the town the first time I drove into the main street with my wonderful Texan wife Vicki.

I am bringing culinary training and demonstrations into peoples homes either one on one or group sessions where techniques from basic to advanced can be learned in a fun environment. Since moving to the area I have been heavily involved with local charities and fund raisers and am regularly seen at the Arts Cottage Smithville and am proud to be a part of the team. I also offer the service of select private fine dining dinner parties as well as the occasional celebration / wedding cake. Another service is restaurant consultancy to anyone thinking about opening a restaurant and to restaurateurs wanting new concepts or staff training. Ask Chef Mike about his famous “Housewives of Bastrop County events”.


 

thompson.pngANDREA PIZZITOLA SKRAPKA
The MarryMe Chef

Have you ever looked at a cookbook and picked a recipe to make for a special occasion? How often did your finished result look like the picture in that cookbook? If you are like me, rarely ever. I thought it was my fault, or that I somehow did something wrong, but actually it was the photo-shopped picture and the vague recipe instructions that led me to feel like a horrible cook. It was a vicious cycle of high hopes and disappointments that set me out on a mission to change the way we cook and create easy to follow recipes that turn out looking even better than the photo.

Join me in my quest to simplify, enjoy, crave, and beautify cooking and never be afraid again to cook for anyone! My recipes are MarryMe Good and the classes are geared toward having fun, learning, and creating your own bullet proof way to cook with tips to pair wine and culinary secrets to make your meals have lasting impressions.

Andrea is a graduate of the International Culinary School of the Art Institute and has had her own catering company. She developed the pilot program for the HEB Bunker Hill Market in Houston and was their sole teacher for two years. She is presently writing her MarryMe Good Cookbook and teaching private cooking classes.


 

KEVIN TYSON
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Kevin Tyson was born in Mississippi, but has spent the majority of his life in Louisiana. His Dad was from Mississippi and his Mom was originally from Louisiana. One of his earliest memories of being in a kitchen was waking up in the cupboard at the church kitchen while his mom was making plates to hand out at church. 

Kevin is a self-taught chef, in which he has spent time with many great cooks along with reading about different techniques and spices.  At the age of 15, he began working in a seafood restaurant then at a steakhouse.  Like any newcomer to the restaurant workplace, he started with bussing tables. Next was washing dishes until finally he worked his way up to being a chef in the kitchen.  At the age of 19, he took a break from the restaurant scene.

After a few years off from cooking he decided to start grilling on a competition level. 
Due to his love of cooking he started his own catering business, “Kevin Tyson Catering”, better known at “KTC” to Kevin which has been in business for about 10 years. Kevin’s Catering business specializes in smoked meats and pot and pan dishes leaning to a Louisiana and Southern Style Cuisine. 

MOLLY FOWLERmolly2.png
Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva, is a traveling culinary instructor, television personality and cookbook author who demonstrates entertaining with ease, flair and impact. Hercredo, “Make every day an occasion”, reflects her attitude andAuthor of Menus for Entertaining, Molly sponsors culinary tours throughout Europe and makes frequent appearances on local television. Her culinary career started in 1989 when she founded a catering company in Denver. She now resides in Houston where she has an extensive fan base because of her regular appearances Houston’s KHOU/CBS Channel 11 Great Day Houston and Victoria’s KAVU/ABC Channel 25 Sunrise. She has appeared on KPRC/NBC Channel 2 in Houston, on ABC and Fox Affiliates in Dallas, in Comcast Cable’s Cookin’ With Carol in Arlington, Texas, and on radio affiliates across Texas.


Molly is an oft-requested instructor for Texas’ HEB Central Market Cooking Schools in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin, as well as at Sub-Zero/Wolf showrooms in Dallas and Houston, The Arbor Gate in Tomball, The Cooking Depot in Cuero, Runnymede Country Inn in Fredericksburg, and other private and public venues across the state. Starting in the early summer 2008, Molly will host her own 30-minute television cooking show, All the Right Ingredients, airing in Houston, on Channel 11.2. Molly has recently been named a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Agriculture. Molly’s skill, humor, and food artistry come together in presentations that provide a delicious serving of information and entertainment.

Visit www.thediningdiva.com, email molly@thediningdiva.com or write to P. O. Box 40446, Houston, TX 77240-0446, Phone 832-541-9819, Fax 713-466-3077.


 

huang.pngDOROTHY HUANG

Dorothy Huang, native of Canton, China was raised and educated in Taiwan. After completing her master's degree at the University of Houston, she worked as a therapeutic dietitian in hospitals. A short time later, she began her career as a cooking instructor. Huang’s knowledge of dietetics – coupled with her own experience in cooking- convinced her that Chinese food provided an ideal combination of nutritional value, easy preparation, and taste appeal. Throughout the years she has returned repeatedly to Asia to study and hone her skills under distinguished chefs in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. From Chicago, Illinois to McAllen, Texas, and from San Francisco, California to Boca Raton, Florida, Huang has delivered her own brand of Asian cooking and the latest culinary trends to her eager students. Her reputation as an expert in Chinese cuisine has reached into South America. In Bogota, Colombia, she guided the opening of the upscale China Stars Restaurant. Huang not only trained the chefs, she created the menu, and assisted in planning and outfitting the kitchens. http://www.houstoncooking.com/dorothy_huang.htm

Dorothy Huang (chinesecuisinedh@aol.com) has taught thousands of people to embrace Chinese cooking in their own homes. Her first cookbook, Dorothy Huang’s Chinese Cooking, has been reprinted six times. The book’s simple instructions and delicious results have engendered huge appeal and acceptance locally and nationally. Her revised and expanded version, Chinese Cuisine Made Simple, includes 160 mouth-watering recipes and beautiful color photographs. The pictures of Chinese ingredients, condiments, and vegetables are especially helpful to beginners. This book emphasizes nutritional value, easy preparation, and taste appeal.

Dorothy Huang’s Dim Sum Lunch and Walking Tour of Chinatown in Houston, Texas, her signature class, has been featured in regional and national publications. A perpetual favorite among Houstonians, the class frequently has a lengthy waiting list and drawn noted chefs as students. Huang has appeared on many television and radio shows. Highly respected as a Chinese food consultant, Huang has developed recipes for major cookware and food companies. She is a member of the Houston Culinary Guild and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.


 

santo.pngLORENZA SANTO

I was born and brought up in Liguria, Italy...a tiny strip of land between the Ligurian Sea and the mountains not too far from Genoa. Most of my adult life has been spent in Tuscany looking after the family B & B located in our farmhouse (www.ilrigo.com) and our restaurant in the small historic town of San Quirico d' Orcia www.ristorantedegliarchi.com where we are open Easter through October. I have loved cooking since I was a little girl and I was always trying to copy my grandmother's recipes using paper, sand and leaves for ingredients. My greatest pleasure and happiness came when using a little bit of 'real' dough or doing easy task such as beating egg whites with a fork or chopping the parsley with a 'mezzaluna'.

My grandmother said that a knife was dangerous but with a 'mezzaluna' you had to keep both hands on the handle and there was no risk of cutting your finger. Later when I went to school I often made cookies for my schoolmates who would come in the afternoon to play.

I am fascinated as I have discovered how many diverse recipes one can create using a few simple ingredients such as flour, butter and eggs and by using different techniques and proportions with your hands in 'the dough'!

My cooking philosophy is simple...use fresh and seasonal ingredients and lots of passion! The rule for cooks are not written on the recipe...that is something we have to learn to read through awareness. We always have to use our senses - eyes, nose and hands (touch).

I began teaching classes at Il Rigo in 1997 and now share the work with my daughter, Luisa who has helped in the B & B since her childhood.

Since 2005 I have been traveling to the United States yearly to teach cooking classes in Beaumont, Cuero and Marble Falls, Texas as well as Venice, Florida. This has been an exciting experience for me. I am thrilled to share the traditions which come from my country and my family as well as my passion for them. Meeting new people and making new friends has been a delightful added bonus.

You can find more information about me on Facebook Lorenza Santo And pages: “Caffè Enoteca Il Pozzo e Ristorante degli Archi”, “Il Rigo”, “Agriturismo Il Rigo” and for musical events visit also” Musica negli Horti e Concerti dell’Abate Naldi”


 

PAULA GERLOFF
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Paula Gerloff is a professional personal and private chef.  Paula is a self taught chef of nearly 15 years and continuously educates herself through travel and culinary courses. Paula has taken courses at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris on Mediterranean Cuisine, Pacific Rim Cuisine with Executive Chef of the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, Vietnamese Cuisine, Wood Fired Pizza Oven School in Napa and Moroccan Cuisine in Amiz Amiz, Morocco.

During her years as a private chef, Paula worked under the direct mentorship and tutelage of Chef Bruno Benedetti, St. Barthelemy and served as the Sous Chef to Chef Dominique Corbett in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France. Paula also worked as a private chef in Houston, Texas, Geneva, Switzerland, Manhattan, New York and Rancho Santa Fe, California.  

Throughout her career, one of Paula’s most rewarding positions has been working directly with nutritionist, Coreen Reinhart of San Diego, California to plan and prepare menus for clients with special dietary needs such as allergy restrictions, renal diets, fertility recipes and cancer recovery diets.

Paula was born and raised in the Gonzales, Texas area.  After almost 20 years of living, working and traveling, Paula came back to reside deep in the heart of Texas!  Paula currently works as a personal chef catering to clients throughout South Texas as well as working here with Annette Rath at the Cuero Pecan House and Main Street Kaffee Haus!

 



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