Step inside Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen and learn the story behind the popular cooking classes

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Who: Chef Alyssa had been bouncing around the kitchens of several Charlotte restaurants when she met Andrew Wilen in the fall of 2011. Soon after they met and started dating, they came up with an idea: to launch a kitchen that hosts cooking classes in Charlotte. Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen opened its doors in 2013 and since then Alyssa has taught thousands of people everything from basic knife skills to how to cook healthy weeknight meals in her South End kitchen.

This week on the CharlotteFive Podcast, we stopped by the kitchen to hang out with Alyssa and Andrew, learn more about the cooking classes — and to eat a delicious breakfast bowl Alyssa whipped up.

What: Chef Alyssa’s cooking classes teach people how to make healthy, sustainable meals at home. There are five different ability levels and the classes are intimate, with up to 22 people at a time cooking in the Atherton Market kitchen. Classes range from a Basic Meals Boot Camp to Wild Game Workshop to — my personal favorite — Breakfast for Dinner, and each costs between about $55 and $75. Chef Alyssa also offers private classes for things like work events and bachelorette parties, and kids culinary classes.

Andrew and Alyssa, who were married last year, recently announced Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen will be moving into a larger space in the new Bowers development in lower South End. The new kitchen will have space for two classrooms and will also allow them to offer office lunches to area businesses and a selection of pick-up meals.

You can learn more about Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen and sign up for an upcoming class at www.chefalyssaskitchen.com.

Anything else?

Want to know how to make the delicious breakfast bowl Chef Alyssa cooked during the podcast? Here’s the recipe.

Grits

Ingredients

– 1 small butternut squash, small diced
– 1 Tbsp. clarified butter
– Salt to taste
– 2 cups water
– 2 cups milk, or more if needed
– ¾ cup stone-ground grits (Coldwater Creek Farm)
– Kosher salt to taste
– 2 Tbsp. butter

Instructions

(1) Preheat oven to 400°F.

(2) Toss the squash with the oil and salt. Roast until golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer directly to a bowl and smash very slightly with a fork or whisk to break up the dices a little.

(3) In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the water and milk until just
simmering. Stir grits into the simmering water and milk. Cook, stirring often, until the grits are tender to the bite and have thickened to the consistency of thick oatmeal. As the grits thicken, stir them more often to keep them from sticking and scorching. Add additional milk and water as needed to fully cook the grits.

(4) When done, stir in the roasted butternut squash. As it heats, adjust seasoning and add the butter.

Bowl toppings

Ingredients

– 6 ounces bacon (Windy Hill Farm)
– 1 zucchini, diced small
– 2 bell peppers, diced small
– 1 yellow onion, diced small
– 2 cups New Zealand spinach (Coto Family Farm)
– 6 to 8 farm-fresh pastured eggs
– Clarified butter for cooking
– Salt and pepper to taste

(1) If needed, slice bacon into 1/4-inch pieces. Place on a roasting rack and bake for 10-12 minutes, until crisp.

(2) Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan and melt in a little clarified butter; add peppers, zucchini and onion and sweat until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

(3) In a nonstick pan, cook each egg sunny-side up or to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper.

(4) Assemble bowl with a scoop of grits on the bottom, topped with uncooked spinach, sautéed veggies and then an egg. Sprinkle on the bacon and enjoy with hot sauce if desired.

The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Corey Inscoe and Sallie Funderburk, and produced by Richard Brooke and 2Waves Media.

You can find The CharlotteFive Podcast on SoundcloudiTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and TuneIn. You can follow us on Twitter @Charlotte_Five, on Instagram @cltfive, and on Facebook, and you can shoot us an email to charlottefive@charlottefive.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen; Sallie Funderburk

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