Cooking with Annie at Gerhards La Crosse

We had a great turnout at our Cooking with Annie event at our La Crosse Gerhards Store. Thank you to everyone that attended! Annie prepared a scrumptious BLT pasta salad and bacon bourbon brownies. We look forward to future demonstrations with Annie at some of our other locations. We can't wait to see what she will be cooking up next! Make sure to check out our Events Page or sign up for our Monthly Newsletter so you don't miss out.

During Annie's visit we asked her a few questions about cooking tips and tricks she has in the kitchen. 

Where do you find your recipes?

Some of them I make up based on my ideas. Otherwise, a combination of cookbooks, magazines and the internet. I usually use recipes as a starting off point and create a dish from there. America's Test Kitchen cookbooks are my go to resources for a lot of information. It gives a lot of background on why ingredients are mixed a certain way or why a dish turns out or sometimes doesn't.  

What's your best tip for success in the kitchen?

Don't be afraid to try new things. Use recipes as a guideline but if you think a different ingredient or cooking something a different way sounds better, give it a shot. You might find something that you enjoy even more.

You talked a lot about knives today. What should people look for when buying knives?

Buy good quality knives but they don't have to be the most expensive knives. A knife that can be easily sharpened is a good knife. I use Wusthof, Henkels and Culinary Institute of America knives. German knives tend to be very good.

What's a tool you can't live without in the kitchen?

Beside knives, a microplane is a really handy tool. You can use it to grate or zest just about anything. You can buy them at any kitchen store and many places that sell kitchen supplies. You can buy different grate sizes but a fine grate is the most versatile and the one I use the most.

What was your favorite thing about the Gerhards kitchen you demonstrated in today?

The Cambria countertops are excellent. They're easy to clean, the patterns tend to camouflage a lot, and they're very sturdy. I have Cambria countertops in my own house.  

Annie Leslie Profile:

Annie graduated number one in her class at the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY) in 2009. She is currently Executive Chef and Commercial Research and Development Manager at AmeriQual Foods in Evansville, IN. 

  • Graduated from Aquinas High School 2001 earning the Olympithan Award
  • Went to Purdue and played Soccer in the 2001/2002 season and went on to earn a Bachelor of Food Science in 2005.
  • March 2008 Katharine Angell Academic Achievement Award for graduating at the top of her class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Worked at Kelly Liken – Vail COPastry Chef Assistant
  • Worked at Chateau Pech-latt Vineyard, Corbieres France
  • Fruit Auditor up and down the West Coast from California Coast to Washington for Atys US grading Strawberries, Peaches and Cherries that are used in Parfaits, Yogurt etc.
  • Enology Lab at Purdue assisting with wine production and research
  • Working on the Indy International Wine competition
  • Worked at the Target Headquarter in their test kitchens (Externship from the CIA)
  • Teaching cooking classes since 2009 in Evansville, IN
  • Recipe for 5 Spice Pecans in the Taste of Home Books 2011 Quick Cooking Annual recipes
  • Recipe testing for Elite’s Culinaria
  • After Culinary School went to Chengdu China Culinary School to learn Szechuan cooking
  • In Cape Town, South Africa learned local cooking at Gold Restaurant.
  • Worked with: 
    Marcus Samuelsson – New York City.
    Made desert for Mario Batali at Kelly Liken
  • Work with all the major food companies such as Campbell’s, Sprout, Kraft, Nestle and Plum Organics making everything from baby food to full meals that are shelf stable
  • Develop from recipe to store shelf with full commercialization.
  • Ameriqual is the number 1 supplier of MRE’s to the military.

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