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An Evening of Cooking at AndyFood Culinary Studio

Posted on: November 1st, 2010 by Taryn Jeffries 2 Comments

Our world is in a funny place right now. The economy is, well, questionable at best. Many people are struggling with providing for their families. As we are confronted with fast food restaurants on every corner providing cheap, quick and not terribly healthy fare, we can sometimes be conflicted with dinner choices. Most families I know are looking to make more meals at home in an effort to ensure that they know exactly what is going into the food and also to save a few pennies here and there. The problem with that for some can be a limited amount of knowledge in the kitchen and knowing how to prepare a meal using foods that are in season in an effort to get the most bang for your buck. I think I have found the solution for you – AndyFood, a culinary kitchen experience, located in Scottsdale. Chef Andy Broder takes the guesswork out of the menu for you and provides all the tips and tricks you need to cruise through your kitchen effortlessly!

My initial intention was to observe Andy’s class and do a quick interview when he had time during the cooking portion of the class. The ever-charming and energetic host suggested that I participate in the class as well and I am so glad that I did!

Upon arrival, I found myself in a warm and whimsically decorated kitchen gleaming with the state of the art Viking appliances. As Andy had a class leave less than an hour prior to the start of the next class arriving, the kitchen was bustling with activity. As the staff hurriedly prepped the cooking stations, Andy greeted me with an “air” handshake – he is a stickler for kitchen hygiene.

I continued to observe the prepping as the night’s students began to file in. Everyone found their places at the two tables, dressed with a welcome pack that included the evening’s menu with complete recipes, lemon-infused water and pumpkins as centerpieces which fell in line nicely with the autumn menu.

As everyone was seated, there was the time and opportunity for introductions and friendly conversation. Soon, Andy introduced himself giving a quick synopsis of his background. He is a native of Arizona, having grown up in Tucson, and started his career as a lawyer for 12 years. He switched things up by graduating from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and traveling to the LA Times for his externship. After returning to Arizona he headed up some cooking classes and 7 1/2 years ago, AndyFood was born.

While enjoying an amuse of grilled chicken and cucumber tzatsiki, we went over the evenings recipes. Andy took special care to give brief lessons in the specific knife skills that would be used in each recipe, as well as providing important tips for preparing the foods at home. We were given many tips and tricks along the way – which I will not reveal here as you should really do yourself the favor of attending one of Andy’s classes; you will be glad that you did.

After everyone had a thorough hand washing, the class was off to their stations and so began the experience. The staff was always available for any questions or concerns that came up. Sous Chef Sandy Lieberman was an absolute delight and had a joyful and maternal way about her.

I had the opportunity to, sort of, hop between stations and it was really great to see complete strangers working together, laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves and the experience. It makes sense that 70 percent of Andy’s business comes by the way of team building and corporate events. What an amazing way to convey teamwork outside of the office!

Once all the courses were complete, the meal was set up buffet style. By this time we all felt like old friends, so we grabbed plates, loaded up on everyone’s creations and returned to our seats to marvel in our achievements.

The dinner was delicious: simple and elegant at the same time. My hands down favorites would have to be the Spiced Apple & Brie Tarts as well as the Individual Chocolate Pecan Tarts.

Chef Andy’s enthusiasm and interaction with the class certainly made the experience for myself as well as other students that I spoke with. This is most definitely something you do not want to miss. Andy’s experience, professionalism and obvious passion for his profession are apparent the moment he introduces himself. The care that is put into the menu selection is just the beginning of the journey. Sign up today for one of the many classes offered at AndyFood by visiting andyfood.com. I know I am!

Read my interview with Andy:

Taryn Jeffries: I saw that you were a lawyer for 12 years before pursuing your culinary career. Was there a specific event that led you to make that change?
Chef Andy Broder: It was a gradual process.

Taryn: What would you consider your greatest motivating factor for creating your culinary school program?
Andy: I was teaching for 4-5 years before opening the school. I wanted to offer something different and I realized that I didn’t want to do catering, but wanted to do something that was more private. There were some people that were teaching classes in either retail stores or restaurants, but I wanted to make the students more comfortable and be able to provide more detail and attention to the groups. It’s also nice to know that, for the most part, the people that are here are here because they want to be.

Taryn: Is there one dish or ingredient that is a continuing frustration for you?
Andy: I really dislike celery, cilantro and anything that tastes like licorice.

Taryn: Is there one dish that you are always asked to provide for dinner parties or holidays away from your home?
Andy: When I go to a close friend’s home, they will basically tell me to bring whatever I want, knowing that I am cooking all the time. I don’t feel any pressure, mostly with close friends, they just want me to relax and have a good time. If I was to bring something, it would probably be a dessert like the one we are making tonight.

Taryn: What’s your fall back comfort food or quick meal that you find yourself making at home?
Andy: I make a lot of pizza. Pizza dough is so easy to make and I always try to have prosciutto, olive oil and cheeses so I can always make pizza.

Taryn: Is there one cookbook that you would want to have with you on a deserted island?
Andy: If I had to pick one it would probably be Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”. Although I really don’t have to use recipes, after culinary school I really shouldn’t have to – so I would actually prefer to have a movie like Babbette’s Feast with me.

Taryn: As far as cooking shows go, since there are so many out there, what would you consider your favorite and least favorite?
Andy: Honestly, I don’t watch any of the cooking shows or channels. After cooking all day I would much rather watch some old black and white movies or shows about saving the planet.

Taryn: What restaurant would you recommend to our readers?
Andy: If it was my birthday or something fancy, I would definitely lean towards elements at sanctuary. For more everyday, I would have to say Pizzeria Bianco, but I am also a big fan of all the Fox Concepts restaurants.

Taryn: One thing that you learned about cooking early on that you still use today?
Andy: My mother did all the cooking growing up and I never really got to go in and help. I think growing up in Tucson, we would go to Nogales and get these tacos that had diced potatoes in them. I know it’s just used as filler, but I really enjoy that.

Taryn: What is one cooking tool or gadget that you can’t live without?
Andy: If I had to pick one it would have to be my microplane, but I also like to collect wooden spoons and big heavy bowls.

Taryn: Best piece of advice for the home enthusiast?
Andy: Be fearless in the kitchen. More often than not, if you make a mistake in a recipe or dish, it’s going to be salvageable. Don’t be timid to try new things, after you learn the basics of a recipe try it again without the recipe. Don’t be afraid to take risks with your food.

I also had a minute to interview Sous Chef Sandy Lieberman:

Taryn Jeffries: Favorite and least favorite cooking shows?
Sandy Lieberman: Favorite would have to be Chopped. The chefs are given the most random ingredients and it’s interesting to see what they come up with. My least favorite has to be Hell’s Kitchen. The American version is so much meaner than the British versions. I think the days of the kitchens being a war zone have gone by the wayside so I don’t like to see it portrayed that way.

Taryn: Favorite kitchen gadget or tool?
Sandy: Microplane.

Taryn: Funniest moment in the kitchen?
Sandy: There are too many to choose from! I would have to say seeing peoples reactions when something goes wrong, when people literally panic. Even if there is a slight mistake, things are almost always salvageable!

Throughout the evening, I had a chance to ask a few of the students about the experience:

Kathy A.:

Taryn Jeffries: Is there something that you learned today that you feel you will definitely use going forward?
Kathy A.: The tip about melting the chocolate in the microwave, I will definitely use.

Taryn: Do you think that this class has helped to make you more comfortable in the kitchen?
Kathy: My husband and I actually entertain a lot and enjoy cooking, but my husband usually does the chopping. I will definitely give the chopping methods we learned a try.

Taryn: What do you think it is about Andy’s class that separates him from other classes you may have attended?
Kathy: Definitely the hands-on and being part of the experience, interacting with the group and being a part of the entire dinner instead of just one dish.

Vivian A.:

Taryn Jeffries: Is there something that you learned today that you feel you will definitely use going forward?
Vivian A.: Definitely the toothpicks soaked in water, the par-boiling of the bacon and tips on coring apples.

Taryn: Is there a specific item that you will be trying at home?
Vivian: We will definitely make the salmon at home, we love salmon…probably the Potato Gratin dish as well as the Fig Dressing.

Taryn: What do you think it is about Andy’s class that separates him from other classes you may have attended?
Vivian: I have taken multiple cooking classes with a woman who has since passed. I like that Andy is hands-, also getting to be involved in the cooking class instead of being shown makes a huge difference along with interacting with the other students.

Robert H.:

Taryn Jeffries: Is there something that you learned today that you feel you will definitely use going forward?
Robert H.: Sandi taught us that if you put your Brie in the freezer for about 15 minutes before putting them in the tarts that it will be easier to cut.

Taryn: Do you think that this class has helped to make you more comfortable in the kitchen?
Robert: I think the experience made me more comfortable to try new things.

Taryn: What do you think it is about Andy’s class that separates him from other classes you may have attended?
Robert: The hands-on experience, because I would have never tried this on my own, but I am glad I came.

Katherine:

Taryn: Is there something that you learned today that you feel you will definitely use going forward?
Katherine: It’s really a collective. The chopping skills and definitely all the little tips we were given along the evening.

Taryn: What would you consider one of the highlights of the class for you?
Katherine: The group experience. I just recently moved here from Southern California so it was nice to meet and interact with new people. Andy was very efficient and thorough and the staff was great.

Lori:

Taryn: What would you consider one of the highlights of the class for you?
Lori: The different food preparations – being able to go from station to station and not just focus on one specific item.

View photos from the class:

 

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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