I am thrilled to announce we have a celebrity in our mist that is a Bacon Time fan to boot! I was pleased as punch when Alice D’Antoni Phillips from this years Season 2 MasterChef agreed to give me an interview. I am so impressed with this gal who has recently cooked for celebrity Chefs like Gordon Ramsay. Truth be told that man scares me just a little, ok, a lot, but I bet this sweet diva in the kitchen just knocked his socks off. It is always refreshing when you meet a celebrity and they turn out to be super sweet. Well Alice is truly a kind hearted soul, don’t take my word for it, befriend her yourself by clicking this link What’s For Dinner? Ally’s Kitchen on facebook. In the mean time, check out what Alice dished out for us all at Bacon Time.
Q) What was the best meal you have ever had?
Oh, that’s entirely toooooooooo hard to even answer! The best meal I’ve ever had depends upon so many other things–my mood, my hunger level, my options for restaurants, and my eating buddies. I absolutely LOVE the steak frites at the Beacon Hill Bistro on Charles Street in Boston. The blackened grouper sandwich at the Crab Shak in Murrells Inlet, SC is to die for. I would walk over hot coals for an outstanding burger, and, in fact, I have a club, which consists of middle-aged women, called “The Food Tribe” where we target what we want to find that is THE BEST in a city, be it a burger, a pizza, steak, pasta…whatever! So much of the time when I eat out, I’m analyzing what’s on my plate and the audio tape inside my head is saying, ‘Oh, yeah, I can do this…hummmm, I see what’s been put together here…’ Of course, after every meal I cook, Ben always says, in total honesty with eyes gleaming and lips smacking, “That’s the best meal I’ve ever had!”
Q) What are your most favorite ingredients and least favorite ingredients to use in your kitchen?
My most fave ingredients are spices, fresh veggies, fresh herbs, forbidden rice, dried beans garlic and oils (olive, butternut squash seed, truffle, etc.) and butter. With these things you can almost take shoe leather and make it tasty! Least favorite, hummmm, that’s a little harder…probably things that clog arteries like lard, not real fond of pigs’ feet or sardines. There’s not much that I won’t try, and, oh yeah, by the way, I don’t have any of these least faves in my kitchen!
Q)If you had to brand yourself, what would your brand or mantra in the kitchen be?
Ally’s trademark cuisine is most aptly described as ‘Bohemian Bold’—creating simple, albeit sophisticated, dishes that are hearty and robust using easy-to-find ingredients and fresh foods—vegetables in-season, traditional cuts of meats, seafood, fresh herbs, spices and seasonings, then fashioning unlikely combinations into an eclectic ‘new’ dish that has traces of other cuisines—Italian, Greek, Creole, Southern (European, African and Native American), Mediterranean, Asian, etc. Ally is a master in the kitchen at taking peasant fare and transforming it into haute couture cuisine even if it’s just simply in the presentation and plating. Her Bohemian Bold trademark cuisine is casual, great for entertaining and intended to wow the eye, tease the taste buds, be yummy for the tummy, and leave a person wanting more. Ally wants to show home cooks how they, too, can extend their culinary skills in simple ways to make standard fare luxurious and decadent!
Q) What is your earliest kitchen/cooking memory?
My earliest kitchen memories date to watching my Mom and Grandma cook as a child. I’d sit on a stool and the kitchen and watch as these incredible women deftly and adroitly worked as masterful symphony conductors in their postage stamp sized and sparsely equipped kitchens. But, they would turn out meals that were fit for royalty. My Croatian Mom cooked very healthy, so for me, the Mediterranean type diet was a mainstay, something that I grew up on. We had a big garden, and every summer there would be corn-shucking get togethers and canning extravaganzas (beans, beets, corn, tomatoes, cukes…you name it). A grocery store adventure was once or twice a month, and that’s when we’d stock up on stapes, other than milk (yes, in the glass jugs), butter and eggs, which were delivered to the house weekly by Valley Bell. During elementary school and probably into 7th grade, I’d get home from school then walk the block or so to Grandma’s house where I’d sit in her kitchen and watch her cook. A small spry woman full of ‘piss and vinegar’ she could peel potatoes so fast you’d not see her hands and fingers move, and every Wednesday, she’d make fresh yeast rolls, bread and cinnamon rolls…talk about fragrances wafting through the neighborhood–now these rolls and bread were not complete without at least a stick of butter being slathered on the tops once they came golden brown from the oven!
The first thing I think I cooked ever by myself was my own birthday cake when I was about 11–it was chocolate, and I have no idea what I did, but I knew my Mom was really exhausted (raising 4 kids on her own after my dad died and going to school trying to become a teacher wasn’t easy back in the 1950s in rural WV), and it was getting late in the day, and I really thought she’d forgotten that it was my birthday!
Well thank you so much Alice, it has been just as sweet as that cheesecake you shared with us below. I can’t wait to watch this years Season 2 MasterChef. Everyone be sure to mark your calendars and program your dvr for MasterChef Season 2 when it premieres with a two hour show on June 6 @ 7:00 PM on FOX. Be sure to check your local listings for any variance on that schedule.
Zivila Kata Cheesecake…Alices Croatian Mom’s recipe…in Croatian ‘zivila’ means ‘long live’ and ‘Kata’ is for ‘Kathryn’ which was her mom’s name…it’s an amazingly healthy and wonderful rustic earthy and robust cheesecake.
Here is a little more information on the lovely and impressive Alice D’Antoni Phillips:
Growing up in the hollers of Southern West Virginia
, Alice has been cooking since Ike was president! For the first 30 years of working life, she was fondly known Dr. Alice (D’Antoni Phillips) and in private practice as a school psychologist; specializing in ADHD and learning disabilities where she excelled in her field. After raising three world-class young men who graduated from prestigious schools, Brown University, West Point, and The College of William & Mary, Dr. Alice morphed into “Ally” and began pursing her cooking (and acting) passions. Now with her supportive husband, Ben, who puts up with her ‘projects’ and shenanigans, Ally is launching her ‘encore’ career. As a Top 100 Contestant on Season 2 of “MasterChef”, Ally can now say she is a ‘celebrity chef’ who has cooked for Gordon Ramsay, Graham Eliot and Joe Bastinach. She now has a cooking blog on Facebook
and is launching her “Ally’s Kitchen” website soon (www.allyskitchen.com
) For now, however, you can find more about Ally at www.wix.com/coolmcduff/allyskitchen
and at her acting webpage http://neactor.com/profile/AlicePhillips