Charlotte’s historic South End District has some serious culinary talent, but award winning Chef Alyssa Wilen is by far the best. Along with many other awards, Alyssa has been named one of the top 10 chefs in Charlotte to know by The Braiser and top 50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte by The Mecklenburg Times. She can also be seen cooking weekly on TV every Saturday morning at 9:15 on NBC Charlotte, WCNC. Although Chef Alyssa is known for many things, it seems that the people of Charlotte love her most for her culinary classes at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen!
Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen provides a comfortable and social environment that allows guests to enhance their culinary skills and learn how to make healthy recipes. Alyssa started her culinary education in High School, taking a few culinary classes. After deciding that she was set on attending culinary school, Alyssa went to The Art Institute of Charlotte for her formal Culinary Education. Alyssa didn’t just rely on courses for experience, she also started and ran her own catering company while in school. After her experience as executive chef at Fern, Flavors from the Garden, Alyssa started Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen.
So, what does Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen offer?
There are tons of cooking classes you can take at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen that vary in cooking style, level of difficulty, and food categories. Some even center around different holidays throughout the year. The current schedule can be found here! Some cooking classes coming up are: Latin Street Food, Spring Harvest, and in June Korean Cooking.
The most popular classes at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen are themes like Thai, Italian and Latin Street Food. “What we realize is that these ones are what our guest’s really enjoy eating out. Some of the dishes might be familiar, but they want to learn about the ingredients and some of the secrets to their favorite foods,” says Chef Alyssa. Since she cooks seasonally, Chef Alyssa uses a lot of unusual food items. “I get to help my guests learn ways they can incorporate these unusual food items. I do everything I can to promote our local farmers, so I also teach people about where they can find these items, and for many, it means coming to a place like Atherton Market vs. the more accessible grocery store,” Chef Alyssa says.
Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen also offers Private Events for a multitude of occasions: Team Building, Corporate Events, Birthdays, Bachelorettes, Girls Night/Couples Night, or even School events.
Chef Alyssa’s Spreads are also available for purchase! Some of the spreads available are Champagne Tomato Jam and Smoked Chili and Mustard Spread!
Why Chef Alyssa’s cooking classes differs from the rest
“I think my style is different because I drive home use of the best possible ingredients and making dishes as wholesome and healthy as possible. I don’t compare the experience we offer at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen to that of dining in a restaurant. I realize that people are coming in to not only have a great evening out, but to apply what they learn to making a healthy meal at home,” says Chef Alyssa. She doesn’t want her guests coming to a class to make something they never will again because it’s full of sugar and rich ingredients. Chef Alyssa wants them to leave with skills that can help them create a healthier lifestyle. “I feel that no matter who you are, you want your food to be healthy, so my food differs in that way,” Chef Alyssa tells us.
Aside from creating a healthier lifestyle, Chef Alyssa also aims to create a fun cooking environment for all who attend her classes. The feedback from her clients is what drives her passion to teach. “I get feedback from guests who tell me they’ve made one of my recipes or cook more of something at home now because of the skills they’ve learned at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen. I love that people can come to my classes and have a great evening out, but that I’m teaching tangible skills that can be used in daily life, and it makes me so happy to hear that kind of excitement,” Chef Alyssa says.
Q & A with Chef Alyssa’s on some of her favorites
CLT Tales: What’s your favorite dish to cook?
Chef Alyssa: “I love using smoke, so I use this cooking method in combination with others often. I also like to cook braised dishes like brisket or tagine cooking. I love slowly developing layers of flavor.”
CLT Tales: What’s your favorite dish to eat?
Chef Alyssa: “I’m the queen of salads! I love texture, freshness and variety so I eat a salad just about every day. Some of my favorite ingredients are beets, cucumbers, toasted nuts and infused balsamic and olive oil.”
CLT Tales: Do you have one dish that you just love teaching people how to cook?
Chef Alyssa: “Pan seared fish. I think it imparts so many skills like temperature, doneness, choice of cooking oil and so many others. It’s amazing how many people tell me they weren’t a huge fan of fish but after learning to work with it they love it! It might just be creating that perfect crust and not overcooking it.”
What’s your opinion on the Charlotte Food Scene?
I like that great food is accessible from casual to upscale. Growing up in Charlotte most of the great food was found at very upscale and “special occasion” restaurants. These days you can find fantastic food in places like food trucks to fast casual and still of course those very special restaurants.
Regardless of what level you’re at with cooking, Chef Alyssa believes that you deserve to have the skills to create healthy food options and the fun environment to learn these skills in! Stop by Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen in South End soon and sign up for a class or shop the spreads in stock.
Learn from Chef Alyssa!
Location: Located in Atherton Market at 2104 South Blvd Charlotte, NC 28203.
Hours: The Market is open Tuesday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Wednesday – Friday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and Saturday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
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