In our last Food Network Star interview, we learned more about Juba Kali. This week we are pleased to share our interview with Katy Clark, a competitor who is the owner of a food and fitness company, Fit Chef Katy. She amazed us with her cooking skills, but unfortunately she was eliminated in the second episode. We were pleased to speak with her and learn more about her.
TT: Having watched Food Network Star, your food looked fabulous, especially your grown-up s’mores. What is the best piece of cooking advice you can offer to home cooks who want to prepare meals that are as attractive and as tasty?
KC: Thanks for the compliment! I am going to share two pieces of advice! Always make sure to keep things “artistic” in a dish, with height and color contrast. Use the same products throughout a dish, making all foods and garnishes relevant to one another. For example In my Grown Up Smores I infused the chocolate ganache with orange zest and almond extract. Then I added “drunken” orange segments, and caramelized almonds on top of my meringue topping. Great color and height dimension, with reoccurring flavor components! Just pretty and yummy!
TT: Most of our readers aren’t trained chefs. What cooking techniques should they learn in order to improve their cooking?
KC: I think the most important thing are the gadgets that you have in your kitchen! It will aid in your style of cooking, utilize the flavor of the foods better and help you save time! For example, whenever I bake I always use a silicone mat in my cookie sheet because it helps make for beautiful bottomed meringues, cookies and scones that come right off my pan. I love my food zester because it is a quick and easy way to add citrus zest to my whole wheat quinoa pancake mix or for finely shredding a sharp Parmesan on my mushroom risotto bites. If there was one “technique” I would encourage to learn, it would be to make a roux. That is the most basic way to make a sauce at home. It really does save you time and money, and you can get creative with the flavor additions and you are in charge of the salt additions.
TT: As someone who focuses on food and fitness, are there certain foods that more home cooks need to use more often?
KC: There are great lists of Super Foods that you can use as a reference for what to incorporate in your cooking. I am trying to encourage others to add nutritious foods to what you are already cooking, so that it becomes a lifestyle change and not a controlled diet way of eating. Super Foods include simple ingredients like apple cider vinegar, salmon, almonds and blueberries. So I encourage people to use the vinegar for their salad dressings, use chopped salmon as the protein in their pasta salad and adding almonds and blueberries to their breakfast oatmeal.
TT: Oppositely, are there foods, which home cooks should avoid?
KC: I never fry food at home. To make a dish that is fried perfectly takes a lot of oil and a perfect temperature. For me, that is too much time, money and dirty work. I save my fried food treats, like great truffle fries or a fabulous cheese filled squash blossom, for when I am out and don’t have to clean it up!
TT: What dish has a lot of wow factor, yet isn’t high in calories, and could be mastered at home?
KC: This is one of my favorites with the end of summer here! I love it because it is nutritious, which should be what motivates us to eat! It is my simple mix of chopped cooked Lobster, Papaya and Avocado. Squeeze some grapefruit and salt and pepper. Makes a great appetizer on bamboo skewers or on a bed of mixed greens. Simple ingredients, full of healthy benefits, and is packed with flavor! Plus it has the “fancy factor” that makes it great to serve to friends, and makes you look, well, fancy!
TT: Now a little bit about you: what are your future plans? Will you return to your food and fitness work, write a cookbook?
KC: I am teaching fabulous workshops that are geared towards healthy lifestyle living. I have one geared toward women called Beautiful You, and one for girls called Just B-YOU!. ” Learning to be beautiful from the inside out!” It’s great because I reach audiences from fancy food festivals to girl scout troops! I teach cooking classes and workout classes as always, and am always training for fitness shows and road races! Make sure to contact me at fitchefkaty.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about something fun we can do in your area! As for a book- of course it’s in the works. My problem is deciding if it should be about how to get really beautiful arm muscles or what healthy recipe to make for 3 picky kids! I’m sure I will find a way to incorporate all of that! Healthy choices. Healthy you!
TT: What was the best part about your Food Network Star experience?
KC: Getting to know all the other amazing chefs is a given, but I also appreciated the time away from my busy life. It actually was nice for me to take a break from my 24-7 job of being an at home mom to focus on some of my passions and dreams and get a chance to define that more in my life. Because of the advice from the celebrity judges and the opportunities that I have had after the show, I have become more focused on my Fit Chef Katy brand, and love seeing how it impacts lives! A big thank you to Food Network for giving me this opportunity! Cheers!