Tag Archives: Chef Sandy DiGiovanni

Crazy Good Deals on Some Crazy Good Classes!

We have a few seats remaining in some upcoming classes and it’s time for you to claim them. Our Class Coordinator, Lisa, has put together a list of deals that should not be overlooked. Go get ’em!

Last-Minute Delicious DealThu, May 4  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Authentic Homemade Italian Lasagna
Chef Daniela Mancinelli Abel
Limited Hands-On | Tasting
Was $60   SAVE 20%    NOW $48.00

Fri, May 5  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
‘Cinco de Pizza’ Party!
Chef Daniela Mancinelli Abel
Hands-On | Tasting
Was $75    SAVE 10%    NOW $67.50

Sat, May 6  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Dinner Among The Vines
Chef Jason Bowers
Limited Hands-On | Dinner
Was $75    SAVE 10%    NOW $67.50

Sun, May 6  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
A Night in Old Havana
Chef Sandy DiGiovanni
Limited Hands-On | Dinner
Was $75    SAVE 10%    NOW $67.50


Register early for Class and SAVE!
Saturday Morning Flash Demos

Sign up in advance online up to the day of class for $25
or walk in the morning of class at $30.

Grill Like A Pro:
Top 10 Tips to a Perfect Steak

Chef Bruce Campbell  |  Sat, May 6

Register Now



We’ll Be Cookin’ At The Western Farm Show!

Western Farm ShowThe Culinary Center of Kansas City is proud to be a part of this year’s Western Farm Show at the American Royal Complex in KC on Feb 24-26.  We have partnered with American Family Insurance to provide cooking demonstrations at this very popular event attended by more than 22,000 fine farming folks. Our Kitchen Shop will also have a presence, where we will have our signature Kitchen Boa™ available for sale.

American Family InsuranceWe’ll be set up in the Wagstaff Theater inside the American Royal Complex where Chef Sandy DiGiovanni will demonstrate Freezable One Pot Wonders from 11 a.m. – Noon on Saturday, Feb 25, and Chef Daniela Mancinelli Abel will present Weeknight Meals Made Easy from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

The farm show, one of the largest indoor farms shows in the Midwest, will also feature hundreds of exhibitors showing the latest in farm and ranch tools and technology, plus booths with clothing, crafts and home decor.

Look for pictures from the show… we’ll be posting them on our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Be sure you follow us!

Connect With Us OnlineNOTE: The cooking demonstrations are free to paid attendees of the Western Farm Show. American Family Insurance is distributing the free passes to the cooking shows, but a paid admission to the Western Farm Show is required to attend them. Adult admission is $8 and free for children 12 and under. 

Six Handy Food Substitutions

In a continuation of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…

We’ve all been there, you’re hurrying along cooking something and –bam!– you’re suddenly stopped short because you don’t have an ingredient you need. That stinks. Here are a few quick substitutes I like to use. And some of them I use not because I need to, but just because I like it better than what the recipe called for, or I want to try something different.

  • Cornstarch.
    CornstarchIt seems that more and more folks are either needing or wanting to avoid gluten in their food. Here’s an easy trick for those recipes that call for flour and butter to thicken a soup or stew.
    It’s just this simple to make it gluten-free:
    Butter + Flour = Cornstarch + Water
  • Liquid SmokeLiquid smoke. 
    In the winter when the weather isn’t cooperating with grilling, use some liquid smoke for that “home bbq’d” feel. Of course the real thing is better, but when you need some ‘Que and you just can’t break out the grill, give in on the liquid smoke. Use just a little. Shhhh, it’ll be our little secret.
  • Portabello MushroomPortabello Mushrooms.
    Want to go meatless at a meal, but you’re not feeling ‘fishy’? Try replacing the meat in your recipe with portabello mushroom. It tastes good, it’s sometimes cheaper than the meat you’d otherwise use, and it has a good meaty texture that won’t change the whole feel of your recipe. Plus it will please your vegetarian friends!
  • cauliflowerCauliflower.
    There are so many ways to use cauliflower that many people never consider! I sometimes like to grate and steam cauliflower a bit to serve instead of rice. It’s paleo-friendly and delicious.  Try boiling and mashing cauliflower and serving in place of mashed potatoes. It’s a 1:1 ratio for your potatoes. You’ll find that it’s a healthier option than potatoes, just not always a cheaper one. And in a pinch, I replace the chickpeas in my hummus
    with cauliflower.  Get creative with your cauli!
  • Greek YogurtGreek Yogurt.
    I like to substitute real Greek yogurt when a recipe calls for mayonnaise. It’s a healthier option, but I know it’s not a cheaper option. The price is starting to come down on it as more Greek yogurt options hit the market.  In the meantime, if it’s not in your budget to completely substitute, consider doing a half-and-half mixture of yogurt and mayo. You could use plain yogurt, but it’s not as thick and it may affect your recipe. Another option to try is hummus. Depending on your recipe, replacing the mayo with hummus is sometimes a delicious option – I like doing that with deviled eggs!

  • FlourCoconut flour or almond flour.
    I often replace my regular all-purpose flour with coconut or almond flour. It has more protein, but no gluten. These flours can be a bit more expensive, but they offer a subtle flavor that you don’t get with regular flour. You can use a 1:1 ratio with the almond flour, but you may want to use a bit less with the coconut flour than your recipe calls for.

These are substitutions that I use frequently.
What are your go-to food substitutions?


Six Things To Do If You Want To Be A Chef

In a continuation of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…

toqueSo you love to cook and are thinking about a culinary career. What next? How do you prepare? What should you do to see if this is really the right path for you? Before you find the nearest culinary school and get enrolled, here are the first six things I think you should do…

  • Take a knife skills class.
    Once you can handle a knife with confidence in the kitchen, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. And you won’t feel completely comfortable in the kitchen until you do.  (We offer a great Knife Skills class at The Culinary Center – just sayin’.)
  • Get good knives.
    Once you learn to properly use a knife, it’s time to find your very own set. Don’t cheap out. Look around and find the right knives for you, and buy the best you can afford. They’re worth the investment.
  • Buy good shoes.
    Much like the good knives, quality shoes are vital if you want to be a chef. You’re going to spend a whole lot of time on your feet. Buy shoes with sturdy support – trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Find a job in the industry.
    Get a job in the food world before you consider going to culinary school. It’s the ‘real world’, baby. You need to see what it’s really like before you decide to commit. Start by working on the line. It’s not glamorous. You’ll learn the politics of the kitchen. Can you handle it? Can you handle the crazy hours and work days? Learn if you love it. If you do, you may have what it takes to be a chef.
  • Experiment with foods.
    Experience different kinds of food – eating them and preparing them. Decide if there’s a particular niche you prefer. Maybe pastries are your love. Maybe a specific style of cuisine. You might even find that you don’t need culinary school to pursue your passion.
  • Find a mentor.
    Volunteer somewhere, take classes, talk to chefs at restaurants. Get to know foodies in your area, and introduce yourself. If you find someone who you respect and who does what you want to do, get to know them. Learn what you can from them.

Bottomline, you have to have a passion for food if you’re going to be a chef. It’s not an easy industry, but as with anything, if you love, it’s worth it. Good luck to you, future chefs!

Six Dinners You Can Pull Off In A Hurry

As part of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares some of her favorite quick-to-prepare meals…

Even a chef doesn’t always have the time or energy to spend hours on a gourmet meal for dinner – maybe ESPECIALLY chefs.  We’re around food constantly, planning, preparing and cooking, and it’s often not appealing to think about it when we get home. So, what do I do when I want a great meal, but I don’t have it in me to fix something elaborate?  Here are a few of my go-to meals for those occasions:

  • Red Beans & RiceCajun red beans and rice.
    For a quick fix and a tasty meal, you can use canned beans and any quick-cook rice. Boom, you have your vegetarian-friendly meal. Add some polish sausage or kielbasa, if you like some meat in it.
  • Italian dinner.
    Make sure to keep some pasta and jarred sauce in your pantry for a super-quick Italian meal. You can add some garlic or basil to your taste, to feel like you’re putting a little bit of culinary magic into it.  Add garlic bread and a salad, and you have yourself a real meal!
  • Chicken  and quinoa.
    Bake some chicken – that’s a quick fix for any meal. Add some quinoa as a side dish. I like to add collard greens or kale – a light vinaigrette adds a nice touch and creates a meal that seems far more impressive than the work you put into it.
  • Greek SaladGreek Salad.
    I always keep some feta cheese in the fridge, so it’s an easy thing to put together a tasty Greek salad at any time. I throw together some salad, feta, cucumber, red peppers and either chicken or shrimp – whatever I have. I always have some olives around too. Top it with a lemon vinaigrette (which is great to have around – throw it together and it will keep in your fridge for 6 months or so!)
  • Pork Chops.
    Sear some chops and place them in a baking pan. Slice some potatoes and onions, and add those on top the chops in the pan. Top with peas, fresh or canned. Add a bit of salt, pepper and garlic. Bake for 1 1/2 hours and serve.  This one is a family favorite – definitely a regular at our house.
  • Italian Sausage HoagieItalian Sausage.
    I just made this one last night. (It’s another regular at Casa DiGiovanni.) I like to sauté turkey Italian sausage with some onions, peppers and potatoes, and serve it on a Hoagie bun. It’s a flavorful meal with very little time or effort spent.

OK, that’s it. You know my secrets. I like a quick, easy meal as much as the next person. But I don’t like to forfeit flavor for it.

These are some of my favorites – what are your family’s favorite go-to quick dinners?

Six Fruits & Vegetables You Should Be Using Now

In a continuation of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…

Winter is winding down here in the Midwest and that means the options  will soon be coming at us fast and furious for a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to use in our cooking! As spring approaches and new produce arrives at the market, it’s a benefit to both our culinary creative options and our budget.  AsparagusHere are 6 fruits and vegetables that are perfect for using at this late winter/early spring time:

  • Asparagus.
    Prices are finally dropping on asparagus, thank heavens. It’s starting to be ‘in season.’  I love grilling asparagus, so this is a happy time!
  • Brussel SproutsBrussel Sprouts.
    Like asparagus, they are becoming more affordable.  My favorite way to prepare brussel sprouts is to roast or sauté them. Bacon is a great match with brussel sprouts. Just remove the outer leaves of the brussel sprouts and cut them in half. Place them on a cooking sheet with small pieces of uncooked bacon, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake for about 20-30 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.  For a special treat, add some dried cranberries toward the end of the baking time.
  • Spring PeasSpring Peas.
    Enjoy the peas fresh now or freeze them for later use. For the best flash-freezing of the peas, shell the peas and put them single layer on a baking sheet. Let them freeze in the pan, then store them in freezer-safe bags for storing up to six months.
  • PearsPears.
    It’s nearing the end of the season, but I’m really enjoying pears right now. They’re not great for freezing, but there are other ways to enjoy them than as just your basic fresh, hand-held treat.  Try making Pear Crisps – slice them skin-on and sauté. They’re a tasty addition to a salad. Or substitute pears for the apple in our Grandma’s Apple Crisp recipe (click here). Delicious!
  • GrapefruitCitrus.
    This is prime season for grapefruit and oranges. There’s just nothing like starting your day with a ruby red grapefruit or a juicy orange – so sweet, it’s like eating nature’s candy.  I also like to grill grapefruit. Keep the rind on and cut in thick slices to grill with chicken or fish. Yum.

The change of the produce seasons brings to me the excitement that the changing of winter-to-summer wardrobes brings to some other people! 

These are some of my favorite produce of the season – what are yours?

Six Must-Have Kitchen Tools

In a continuation of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…

There is no end to the number of appliances, gadgets, tools and gizmos that you can buy for your kitchen,  but there are certain basics that every person who is serious about their cooking should have.  Heads up!  I use the term ‘appliance’ loosely here, as the following necessities may not fall squarely within the exact definition of appliance.  Regardless, I wouldn’t do without these in my kitchen.

  • A couple of cutting boards. Save one for use just with chicken. What kind of boards should you get?  I’d suggest a plastic or silicone one for meats. I carve meat on a wood one, though. Bamboo ones work really well, and you can find them at a low price. Don’t use glass cutting boards. Not only do they make a really irritating sound when you cut on them, knives easily slip on them because there is no good grip. Same with marble boards. Both are pretty, but that’s not really what’s important here, is it?cutting board
  • The best knives that you can afford.  Price doesn’t define the quality of a knife, mind you.  Do your research; visit a local knife shop.  Ask questions. Hold the knife in your hand. Make sure it feels right for you. Find one with carbon from the tip of the blade right through the handle. Your knives don’t have to be a matching set – look for each knife individually.  A good chef’s knife and sharpening steel are essential in the kitchen. If you don’t have a honing stone, make sure to take them to a professional for sharpening at least three times per year. There is little that is more dangerous in a kitchen than a dull knife!Chief's knifeFood Processor
  • Food Processor.  Get the best size and quality of food processor you can work into your budget. Make sure it includes all of the different attachments that you’re likely to use.  Once you get it, use it!  You’ll find that you can use your food processor in many more ways than you ever imagined in your cooking.
  • Kitchen Aid Mixer.  I’m not a name-brand shopper, I’m really not. But Kitchen Aid just makes a great mixer. There are different ‘levels’ of Kitchen Aid Mixers available at different stores.Kitchen Aid Mixer In the case of mixers: “you get what you pay for.” Save up for the one you’ll want to include in your will – a good one will last you a lifetime and beyond.  And, as with the food processor, use it to its full extent. It’s for more than just stirring cake mixes. Learn about all the attachments available, and make it work for you!
  • A good set of stainless steel pots and pans.  (And one Teflon pan for making eggs, if you haven’t gotten the knack for making them in stainless steel. Plus a cast iron pan.)  Have I mentioned we offer a great Pro Series Cookware set of stainless steel pans designed for The Culinary Center of Kansas City, available online and in our Kitchen Shop?!   To check them out, click here…
    CCKC Pro Series Cookware
  • Crock Pot or Porcelain Dutch Oven.  There’s just no excuse not have a good, healthy meal when these make it so easy. And there are lots of options available on the latest crockpots – set a timer, sear your meat, etc. Even the busiest person can spend 5 minutes in the morning prepping a meal. And bam, dinner is ready when you get home. There are thousands of crockpot and Dutch oven recipes available in cookbooks and online. Try some!Crockpot & Dutch Oven

  What are your kitchen essentials?