Meet Chef Allison Schroeder, ACI’s Newest Instructor
Arizona Culinary Institute’s new Basics Baking instructor, Chef Allison Schroeder, is a self-confessed food nerd/geek goddess/social media dork who proudly wears the moniker “Schroed-A-Pedia” with honor because she is always willing to find the answer! It’s then entirely fitting that this epicurean dynamo will now be educating the next generation of culinarians here at ACI.
Schroeder’s quest for knowledge began on a farm in Northern Iowa where it was a 45-minute journey just to reach the nearest grocery store. In this environment, completely connected to the land, she learned about canning and prepping game animals. Schroeder soon became a member of the 4-H Club and FFA, and her world consisted of livestock judging, dairy and cheese production, and the wholesale and retail aspects of farming and food creation.
“I sincerely loved this lifestyle and found the knowledge so useful,” imparts Schroeder. “It truly prepared me for the culinary journey that I am still on to this day.”
Fast-forward to Scottsdale, AZ, where Chef Schroeder had family, and this determined go-getter finished culinary school in record time by taking both day and night courses at the same time.
“My family is very education oriented – my mom is a teacher – so news, politics, and world events were the currency of the realm in my house,” reminisces Schroeder. “When I became passionate about food, I viewed my teachers as walking encyclopedias, and I hope that my students approach me in the same way.”
After a brief stint in Los Angeles where Chef Schroeder worked for David’s Events, a high-end event company where unlimited budgets and $10,000 candy buffets for celebrities like Will Smith were the norm, Schroeder returned to Scottsdale and she has been teaching ever since.
Her passion for food, especially baking, remains unbridled.
“For me, baking is such an art form because it involves biology, chemistry, math and imagination with flavor and shaping – that I can create with my hands,” effuses Schroeder. “Bread is alive and it’s a formula that must be followed exactly in tone and temperature.”
Schroeder recently sourced a new sour bread from Desert Garden’s Marketplace that can be traced back some 300 years to Croatia, probably by way of Italy and Greece, and it’s now being served in ACI’s du Jour Restaurant on Thursdays and Fridays.
“The bread has been nicknamed ‘Picard’ after Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the fictional character in Star Trek!” laughs Schroeder. (Schroeder also has some other possible doughs waiting in the wings that she loving refers to as “Redshirts,” which as any Star Trek fan knows are characters that are expendable!!!)
Schroeder vividly remembers Julia Child’s show (Julia and Jacques Pepin Cooking at Home) coming on after Sesame Street as a kid, and she’d call to her mom:
“The ‘Grover’ lady is about to start something on fire!”
This inspiration, along with her grandmother’s French cooking techniques combined with country-style cooking remains with Schroeder to this day.
“My ultimate comfort food is still chicken pot pie,” smiles Schroeder. “Come on, stock, gravy, and a pastry top, are you kidding me?!!!”
Schroeder relishes the idea of teaching, and just as she impressed her early instructors, she’s always thrilled when a student asks an amazing question.
“I will chase you down with knowledge,” imparts Schroeder. “I want my students going out into the world – and always be questioning. There’s no end to the education you can obtain in the world of food.”