Chef Alli will be demonstrating how to make delicious holiday food at the upcoming Holiday Cookin' with Chef Alli hosted by the Leavenworth Times and Price Chopper from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Heritage Center at 109 Delaware in Leavenworth.

Chef Alli will be demonstrating how to make delicious holiday food at the upcoming Holiday Cookin’ with Chef Alli hosted by the Leavenworth Times and Price Chopper from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Heritage Center at 109 Delaware in Leavenworth.

Chef Alli, where were you trained in culinary arts and where have you been a chef? Are you working as a chef now?
I am mostly self-trained, but I did attend Personal Chef school in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It was a two-year program and I did receive my certification as a personal chef there.
I am in my 18th year as Chef Alli and I have spent all of that time reaching out to home cooks, always helping them get dinner on the table via recipes, kitchen hacks, encouragement, and demonstrations. 
My main focus as a chef is teaching and  I do that from a variety of social platforms (such as Facebook Live) as well as on television and via my website.  
I also love getting to present to live audiences such as the Holiday Cooking event coming up in Leavenworth. Speaking is one of the favorite parts of what I do. 
As a brand ambassador always working on behalf of Kansas farmers and ranchers I also love getting to have conversations with people about how their food is grown and raised. I live on a farm North of Topeka where we raise cattle, so I understand how easy it is for people to not fully realize what farmers actually do, nor how we do it. It’s really important to have those conversations about food and farming, especially since less than 2 percent of the world’s population is a farmer. 

What are you most looking forward to about preparing food for the Holiday Cookin’ show?
Engaging with the audience and helping to inspire them to cook for their friends and family. Cooking is hard work - let’s face it. Therefore, if I can offer inspiration, encouragement and/or some good kitchen hacks to make life in the kitchen easier, I’ve done my job. This is my goal and I hope we will also get to laugh a lot together, too — such good medicine. 

What kinds of food will you be preparing?
We will be making some fun holiday appetizers, a speedy skillet meal (for those crazy eves leading up to Christmas), a delicious eight-minute Shrimp Risotto in the Instant Pot, and probably a festive holiday dessert, too. And I think I will also be demonstrating how to put together a holiday charcuterie board which is so fun.

Why do you think the cooking show will be a great way for people to prepare for the holidays to make unique and delicious food? Will you be demonstrating how to prepare and cook foods?
Well, first of all, what woman doesn’t want a festive evening out with her friends? Spending time with our friends is a great way to prepare for the holidays because it boosts our energy and gets us excited about the memories we can make with our families. As moms and wives, we need all of this that we can get so that we can continue to take care of our families in ways that are meaningful to each of us, and lots of us do that via cooking. 
The holiday event will provide fun, inspiration, how-to demonstration, and tasty recipes for those who attend. And since attendees get to mingle, shop, visit with friends, wine and dine a bit, and then enjoy the show, I think it will be an evening they will fondly remember. I know it will be a great time for me - I love connecting with other cooks. I will be demonstrating how to prepare and cook the food.

What are your favorite foods you make for Christmas? What’s the secret to becoming a top-notch cook?
We always enjoy an orange and maple glazed ham every Christmas, as well as a prime rib, since my guys are big meat eaters.
As for me, right now I’m pretty infatuated with jello salads as side dishes for some crazy reason — just a sign that I’m getting older, I think.
I also like to serve soups and grilled sandwiches for Christmas Eve and this year I think I’ll include an Instant Pot chicken and mushroom wild rice soup. I’m so in love with electric pressure cooking. We also enjoy French toast casseroles that can be assembled the night before Christmas morning and we always have creamed eggs on toast as part of our Christmas breakfast. This is making me so hungry by the way.
I think the secret is to never give up and to realize that as long as you learn something from a recipe that didn’t quite turn out right, it’s not a failure.
Also, I think that good techniques can really help us make our food sing.
As an example, learning the technique of browning our meats and aromatics and how this  heightens the flavor profiles of nearly any dish, yet it just takes a few additional minutes. 
Because when we are cooking, brown is never a color, it’s a flavor.   Or what about why we need to give our meats ‘beauty rest’, both before and after cooking them?
There are tons of tricks, techniques, and little hacks we can learn that can really help. Committing to being a life-long learner in the kitchen (and in life) is essential to our success.

— Rimsie McConiga