Fustini's Oils and Vinegars

Chef Feature: Getting to Know Chef Christie Struck

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Whether you consider yourself a cuisine novice or a pro foodie, there’s always something new to learn in the kitchen. 

Cooking classes offer an exciting opportunity to try out new recipes, explore a type of cuisine and learn valuable tips and tricks from experienced and knowledgeable chefs. 

These interactive experiences at Fustini’s are led by a team of engaging, accomplished chefs who are eager to share their knowledge and insights with attendees. Classes often feature a different type of cuisine or theme that chefs find recipes and cooking techniques to share. 

Chefs make the experience engaging and informational, not to mention a fun time with family and friends. Among these chefs include self-taught home cook Christie Struck. 

Christie began with Fustini’s teaching in-person cooking classes at our Petoskey store. Now, she leads exciting virtual classes, inviting attendees to cook alongside her, right from their own kitchens. Her classes incorporate a wide range of cuisines, from pizza to Thai to comfort food and so much more. 

Getting to Know Chef Christie Struck

As a home cook, Christie loves traveling and exploring new flavors, cultures and cuisines. We caught up with Christie to get her take on what it’s like to be a guest chef with Fustini’s and the opportunities and joys that cooking at home can bring. 

How did you learn and grow in your culinary skills? 

My interest in cooking started as a newlywed. I was trying to stay on a tight budget but also find yummy things to cook and eat. Fast forward 10 years, my husband and I were enjoying one of our first gourmet restaurant meals. He told me that he would be on board if I could learn to cook like this, and soon. Now married for 25 years, I've had a lot of fun learning and using my family as my critics for new recipes and ideas. I'm so thankful they're pretty adventurous eaters.

What do you enjoy most about cooking at home? 

I love taking care of my family and learning new techniques and ways of cooking, using flavors from all over the world. We have traveled quite a bit as a family, and our children have asked that we stay in places where there's a kitchen so that I can cook instead of eating out as often. Travel is one of the joys of life. One of our favorite things to do is going to the grocery store in other countries. You can learn so much about a place from the foods that they eat. 

How do you come up with the menu for your cooking class? 

Coming up with menus for my classes usually starts with the question, "What would I want to learn how to cook?"  However, there is an infinite variety in food and flavor that there will never be a shortage of interesting things to learn.  That's my starting point.  

Then the questions of "What will taste great?" and "What ingredients are readily available to buy?" come next. If a dish tastes amazing, but the key ingredient can only be found in a tiny storefront in a certain locale, it's not very practical to teach others. 

I also try to focus on recipes and ideas that are easy to do with a family and that don't take several hours to make.  My best and favorite recipes in my home are things that take longer to eat than they do to make. 

In what ways can cooking bring people together? 

Cooking can bring families into the kitchen where there can be laughter and chatting and a closeness that is precious. If your kids are in the kitchen with you and involved in the preparation, they'll be more apt to try new things. Teach them to use a knife safely early.

What opportunities does a virtual cooking class offer? 

In a virtual cooking class, there is definitely an advantage of being able to easily change a recipe to tailor it to your family's tastes. When in-person, I make the recipe fairly standard. But at home, you can switch out broccoli for cauliflower or shrimp for chicken if that's what your family prefers. As a teacher, that’s what I strive for. I hope you use the recipe as a guideline but make it how it tastes the best for you and your family. I love giving people the flexibility to decide what they think tastes best.

What's your favorite Fustini's product? 

Since I do have some food allergies, Fustini's has helped me bring flavor and interest to food without the health issues that can be annoying or painful. 

For my favorite Fustini’s product, it’s difficult to choose just one. My top five would include:

Some honorable mentions would include the Maple Balsamic Vinegar, Lavender Balsamic Vinegar, the Sage and Wild Mushroom Olive Oil, the Balsamic Glaze and the Black Truffle salt.

What advice would you give someone new to cooking or eager to develop their skills? 

Keep trying. Taste while preparing and adjust flavors. Season gradually. You can always add more, but you can't take it out. 

Don’t be afraid to try. It's okay to not like something, but it's even more fun when you try something new and it's a big hit. In the kitchen, good knife skills are important, as are sharp knives. Get yourself a really good knife and keep it sharp. People actually cut themselves more often with a dull knife than a sharp one. 

Good luck and happy cooking!!

Get Cooking with Chef Christie Struck 

Like our other guest chefs at Fustini’s Christie brings an entertaining and informative experience through virtual cooking classes. Want to cook alongside Christie right from your own kitchen? Check out our upcoming class schedule and find a time and theme that sounds appetizing for you and your family. 

 

 

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