CityView Magazine

March/April 2015

CityView Magazine - Fayetteville, NC

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28 | March/April 2015 conferences, where she learns tips that she brings straight back to her kitchen. Mei Parker is not your typical chef in the sense that you won't find her lead- ing the kitchen in a restaurant. Instead, she is a personal chef, making comfort in the kitchens of her clients. She offers dinners for an intimate party of two, or for an entire family's holiday celebra- tion. Born in Malaysia, Chef Parker started cooking at a young age. "I come from a big family of matriarchy, so I was big into cooking and I always had to help in the kitchen. I enjoy the aspect of big gatherings and big groups, cook- ing and family sitting together - the unity of it all," said Parker. Her ethnic flare of cooking is drawn from multi- ple different cultures and cuisines. She explained, "Cooking relates to people, history, geography and how the peo- ple from where the ingredient is from cook it. My interest is a lot of cuisines from everywhere, understanding the flavor, textures, herbs and spices - that way I create a lot." Parker has a classic way of cooking, yet she incorporates the latest trends into what's "new and hot" around Fayetteville. Although she loves entertaining, cooking and caring for her clients, she also does catering on the side. So there's a caterer, a personal chef and then there's Melanie Mitchell on the other side of the cheffing spectrum: baking. Melanie is the pastry chef at the Hilltop House Restaurant where she specializes in European desserts and pastries. Coming from the rich French- Canadian culture of Quebec, Melanie found her love for baked goods as a teen- ager. She explained, "I started working at the age of 13. My dad had stores with a lot of bakeries in them, so I learned how to make croissants and the basics of baking. Later I worked at an Italian restaurant. From there an interest grew and I went to culinary school." During the week, Melanie has a rigorous sched- ule. "I have my routine, on Tuesday I do desserts for the whole week. When it starts to get close to Friday sometimes I get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to make fresh scones and cookies." Traveling around the world and throughout many countries in Europe, Melanie has mas- Photography by Michelle Bir MEI PARKER Favorite ingredient? I love spices and herbs, they are my backbone of flavor. Sea salt and five-spice powder are my favorites. Favorite kitchen tool? Knives. Find the ones that fit your hands the best. No matter what quality of the knife you need to sharpen it. Best kitchen tip? If you're following a recipe and you have a menu, read through the recipes. Prepare. Make sure the food is distributed evenly so you don't get clogged up. Organization is important in the kitchen. Melanie Mitchell: Favorite ingredient? I love working with nuts. Favorite Kitchen tool? I love the stand-alone Kitchen-Aid mixer. Best kitchen tip? Don't overdo it. As far as sugar and decorating, simplicity is the best way to design, because it looks elegant.

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