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Conversations with a Chef - Joan Angelis
October 20, 2011

Conversations with a Chef - Joan Angelis

1. What was your favorite meal growing up?
Ravioli with ground beef and spinach filling and tomato sauce

2. When did you first start cooking and what did you make?
When I first got married, in 1979. I think I made some recipe from my mom-in-law, with Uncle Ben’s boxed rice.

3. When did you first want to become a chef?
I apparently wanted to for a long time, but didn’t realize it. I thought this was a second career (first one a teacher), but I keep meeting people who say things like, “Oh yes, I remember all the fancy dinners you used to make years ago.” Not until these kinds of statements do I look back and remember cooking so many gourmet meals for so many different people – maybe for decades?

4. Which culinary school did you attend?
The Art Institutes International Minnesota, in Minneapolis

5. Favorite culinary school memory?
I won the Best of Show award for our portfolio show, at the end of my program.

6. Do you have a favorite type of cuisine you like to cook?
Yes, healthy, Mediterranean / Asian kind of fusion.

7. Ideal late night snack?
Guilty – any thick, heavy ice-cream – or just popcorn with my husband.

8. If your friends show up to your home unannounced and were hungry, what
would you make them on the fly?
Stir-fry, or a pasta dish with black olives, tomatoes (pesto if it’s summer, when I grow basil), parmesan, olive oil, etc.

9. Do you have any specialty ingredients or uncommon items you keep on hand
that you like to cook with?
I love the tubes of tomato paste, where you can squeeze out just as much as you need. Also, the ceramic round graters that I first saw in Tokyo and are in lots of stores now. I also love to use fresh ingredients like fruits and herbs like cilantro when I can.

10. Any advice for someone interested in becoming a chef?
Work hard and you cannot be too organized.

You might say that the culinary field has been in Joan Angelis’ family for generations. Growing up with Italian immigrant grandparents, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, holiday meals were always an extravaganza, with Ravioli, Gnocchi, Risotto, Cappelletti, salads, a plethora of meats and cheeses, Italian cookies, and much, much more, all made from scratch with recipes handed down through the generations. One grandfather ran a restaurant, as did an uncle and two cousins. Another cousin has worked as a caterer.

Joan earned a Master’s degree in teaching the visually impaired from Boston College and taught children until taking a break to raise two daughters.

In 2005, after her oldest daughter left for college, daily family dinners ended up being either totally gourmet or take-out, nothing in-between. Joan reveled in planning extravagant menus for holidays and parties – for her own family and for every friend who happened to have a special occasion.

After a tour of the Art Institutes International, in downtown Minneapolis, she was sold immediately. In June of 2009, Joan graduated from the Art Institute, with honors, and an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, winning “Best of Show” in the Portfolio Show. One of her favorite things is chopping fresh herbs and cutting precise garnishes.

“Angel in the Kitchen” brings together a passion for food, but also represents Chef Joan’s very own ethnic background. The original family name was “Marinangeli,” or “sea angel,” in Italian. So, if you just have no time or energy to cook, or if you’d like to impress your friends with a delightful presentation of flavorful, healthy food, remember that with Chef Joan Angelis, your Angel is in the kitchen!

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