For some, cooking is a means to a family dinner or staying full until lunchtime. For others, the art of cooking is an entertaining experience.
Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, Chef Andy Stewart always helped inspire a passion for cooking class atendees might not even have known they have.
As the corporate chef of Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, Chef Andy set up the kitchens in all School of Cooking locations. He then primarily tought and lead cooking classes at the Holland store location.
Andy had been cooking for decades. He lead with over 35 years of culinary experience, including fine dining, full service and both regional and national food service environments. He worked throughout Michigan and also in New York City. He knew his food.
With the knowledge and experience he’d acquired, Chef Andy shared his insight, stories and expertise in a variety of types of cuisine for curious and hungry cooking class students. While he’d developed a particular skillset for Italian cuisine, Chef Andy inspired fresh flavors and tastes from around the world.
When Chef Andy stepped up to the Fustini’s School of Cooking table, he came with a desire to teach and share this love of cooking and the joy it can bring both to your tastebuds and soul.
In Holland, Chef Andy made a School of Cooking class the popular and delightful activity it is. Shortly before Andy's passing, we caught up with him to get his take on what cooking meant to him and the influence it can have on your next mealtime.
I was inspired by my mother to cook. However, there was a guy I met in New York City named Fred Costello who taught me the joy of working hard on a line and helped me learn to love it.
When I am by myself for dinner I love sloppy joes and I will make them in many different ways using beef, pork, chicken, turkey or even, forgive me, vegetables. I love that sweet and sour flavor in a sandwich.
The most satisfaction I get from leading a School of Cooking class is the look on people’s faces when they take their first bite. I love the creative process and the interplay between attendees in the class.
I also love the organizational aspects of what I do. My wife says I love the MIs en Place side of my job (meaning the prep work) which is true. But the final grade comes from that reaction to tasting food in your mouth.
I have been doing it so long, I see it as an accomplishment. For me, food should look good. But also, the combinations of color, texture, layering and flavor will always make sense to me.
Developing a palette early in life opens so many flavor doors. Cooking is a lifelong gift for most; but it can be a challenge for others. Early success will dictate how long a person stays in the kitchen. I had a good and knowledgeable teacher with success so my path was set early. My neighbor’s children all cook and my mother-in-law at 90 years old is still cooking. I think age has less to do with the desire to cook than the desire itself.
Cooking classes at Fustini’s are a memorable and delicious experience. Check out a class coming up soon on our calendar.
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