Seller Spotlight: Chef Andrea Bowers Recalls Cooking As A Child

We interviewed Chef Andrea, Execute Chef and educator, founder of Clean Plate PDX and food lover.

Andrea’s love for food began at a young age. She has fond memories of baking with her mother, harvesting and canning at her grandparent’s farm in Kansas, and enjoying the Sonoran style of Mexican cuisine in Tucson where she grew up.

 

She attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, CA where she earned an A.O.S. degree in Culinary Arts. She has been a Pastry Chef for the Kimpton Group in San Francisco, Executive Pastry Chef at the Arizona Inn in Tucson, Pastry brigade member for Robert Redford in Sundance, Utah. Andrea currently resides in Portland, OR  where she has led the pastry kitchen of several local restaurants before becoming a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, Resident Chef for Sur La Table and the Culinary Director for The Kitchen at Middleground Farms in Portland, OR.

Having a Chef with Andrea’s experience on Nailit is such a privilege! I have been fly on the wall on a few of her online classes and I was amazed by her wit and the depth of her knowledge. This week she carved some time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
 
Stefania Mereu from Nailit (SM): How did you start cooking?

Chef Andrea Bowers (AB): I blame my cooking career on two things, my easy bake oven and being a latch key kid. I loved to bake anything or just make homemade french fries after school. I truly feel that a lot of Chefs that grew up before the time of Food Network were inspired to cook when no one was home to tell them not to mess up the kitchen. It was a way for me to be entertained and creative.

SM: What is your oldest/fondest memory regarding food and cooking?

AB: was raised mostly by a single Mom who was always busy. Despite that, we rarely had anything that was out of a box. She still made most of the food from scratch. Baking with my Mom was always something that she made time for. I especially loved when we would break out the family recipe card box and make my Grandma’s donuts.

SM: You have a passion for farm-to-table. What made you develop such interest?

AB: My Farm to table inspiration mostly comes from my parents both being from Kansas. My father grew up on a farm there. Although I grew up in Arizona, during the summer months, my brother and I spent a lot of time on the Kansas farm helping out when we weren’t too busy chasing fireflies or eachother. I learned how to can produce and fish on that farm. The idea of eating what was around and in season, never left me. I’ve been lucky enough to teach cooking classes for a number of years now. Most recently, I have been the culinary director on a farm to table cooking school outside of Portland, Oregon. I simply love it!

SM: Where do you get your inspiration? 

AB: I get inspired from all kinds of places. Sometimes I cook what I am in the mood for, what I may have in the garden, food magazines with gorgeous pictures, popular trends or what my clients want to learn more about.

SM: What is your guilty pleasure?

AB: Oh man. It’s kind of gross, but I still love Oreos! I also looooove ice cream. If a pint of ice cream lands in my freezer, it will not make it past two days.

SM: You embarked in this adventure, and you started making your first sales. Congratulations! What made you realize that you could share your passion with others through video?

AB: The pandemic changed everything for me. I simply missed the connection of cooking with others and after a few months of being away from cooking with others live, I realized that I had to make that leap to try something new. For me, there is nothing better than a collaboration of creativity that leads to a satisfying outcome. When we cook together, we not only feed our bodies, we feed our souls. It sounds trite, but when someone learns how to take care of themselves through food and realizes that it’s not such a hard thing to do, the results are amazing. It is a boost of confidence that is infectious. While it’s definitely easier to just order take out, having someone show you that one meal can easily translate into the next, not only makes sense for our health and financial well being, you can grab your child or partner to come chop and mix a few things right along with you and it’s a bonding moment that will always be remembered. These are one of the many benefits of cooking with a live Chef on a device in your kitchen. You don’t get that from watching cooking shows or YouTube clips. When cooking with a Chef that is dedicated to you, it’s a win-win. The Chef gets to work again thanks to you. You benefit from cooking things personalized to you, your kitchen space and level of skill. A Chef can tell you what to do, but a Chef who is a teacher will guide you and be there to answer the why behind the what all while having a fantastic time doing it. Win-win.

SM: What is the most challenging part of teaching online, and what is the most rewarding?

AB: The challenging part of teaching online is that it can take longer to cook together than it would cooking together in person. Unfortunately, the Chef can’t prep with you to make things run faster, however the advantage is that the client will understand more about timing and preparation when they have the opportunity to prep on their own or with family. I miss being able to taste something with my clients or use my nose as a guide for knowing that the heat needs to be turned up or down or knowing that it’s time to take those enchiladas out of the oven, but that missing piece gives the client the opportunity to build those skills. The reward, whether live or in person, is when I hear someone say, “Wow! Look what I did!! This looks and tastes amazing! I can’t wait to make this again.” I also love when I can take away the fear of cooking or baking something new with my clients. Meeting new people from across the country has been really cool for me. That is an advantage of teaching online that I haven’t experienced before. I love hearing all about what someone grew up cooking or eating and the lore behind it. Building a community that is much larger in scope than I have had before has just been a gift.

SM: What would you say to someone who wants to start their virtual career?

AB: I say do it! There is never a reason to not try something new. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? You just never know where something new will lead.

Seller Chef Andrea Bowers

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