As we said bye to 2012, we kicked off 2013 with a homemade dinner and a brand new episode of Chopped on New Year’s Day. We caught up with the first winner of the new year, Chef Flannery Klette-Kolton to learn about her catering company BigLITTLE Get Together, her favorite places to eat in NYC and her experience on the show.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking?
FKK: I grew up cooking at home with my parents. I always liked to be helpful as a child so I would eagerly await for tasks to be given to me in the kitchen. By the time I was 8 years old, my neighbor and I were throwing “cafes” for our parents where we would prepare dinner, plate it up, and serve it to them as if they were in a cafe or bistro.
FP: When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
FKK: As an adult, I decided I wanted to cook professionally after I spent some time cooking recreationally with Lauren Gerrie, my best friend and business partner. Both of us grew up infatuated with the Food Network and had both innately fantasized about working with food and possibly having our own show one day. I guess we just needed each other to take the plunge.
FP: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
FKK: I love that food is something that can be profoundly meaningful to everyone. Being able to move people through cooking is incredibly profound. I love that there is no limit to my knowledge, skills, or abilities and that the potential for growth as a chef is exponential! THAT is the most inspiring!
FP: We must say that you and Lauren make a great team! We love the personal chef concept of BigLITTLE Get Together. How did the idea come about?
FKK: Lauren and I prepared a Great Gatsby themed dinner and cocktail party for our mutual friend’s birthday on a rooftop in Gramercy. We had so much fun that on the very same night, after much wine and early twenties joie de vivre, we decided we should do this! And… we did!
FP: Name some chefs that have inspired you.
FKK: Wesley Genovart, Jean-Gorges, Jose Andres, The Voltaggio Brothers, Ina Garten, Anne Burrell, Mario Batali, Julia Child, Alice Waters.. I could do this all day!
FP: We imagine the list could go on and on…
Tell us about your experience on Chopped from casting to filming. What was it like to compete against the other chefs? What will you remember most about the experience?
FKK: Wow. In one word that is all I can muster. I think anyone who competes on the show has serious balls. The challenges and variables are immense, but what is amazing about having such diversity within each challenge is that in a way it levels the playing field. I would say, personally, that I really tried not to think at all when I was cooking and let my instinct do most of the work. I saved the thinking time for when I was talking etc. In those moments I wanted to be sure that I portrayed myself accurately. I am not one to slam other people in that sort of an environment, I am a far more supportive person, so I tried to show support and enthusiasm for all my competitors.
Having Danny Lachs there was actually a huge blessing. Though I wanted to see him win and I was sorry to take that opportunity from him, getting to hang out with him all day during shooting helped us both feel more relaxed. The experience is by far the most stressful thing I have ever done. However, the crew and judges and other chefs were all so incredibly wonderful, which made me feel like I was a part of this family that is the Chopped team. That is the memory I will cherish the most.
FP: Sounds like a great experience and a great accomplishment to win Chopped!
When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself or for guests?
FKK: Most of the time when I cook for myself I cook really.. REALLY simply. I make myself a lot of salads and eggs, or simple vegetables. Lately, I have been much better about experimenting on myself through food. My favorite meals to cook for friends and myself are the meals I prepare in Cape Cod for my family and the Geiger and Taylor families. I go to Hatch’s Farmstand and Fish Market and just let myself be inspired by their already beautiful products. I also love that there is a big grill up there. Love the grill!
FP: If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in NYC area.
Some of my favorite restaurants in NYC include 15 East, Mas La Grillade, Mission Chinese, Sripaipai, Osteria Morini, Minetta Tavern, Perry Street, Tortillaria Nixtamal, Marlow & Sons & Diner, Cafe Mogador, Takahachi, Minca, Ippudo, Pylos & Boukies, Edi & The Wolf… just to name a few.
FP: So many great places to eat in NYC, so little time. We’ll have to add these places to our list of places to check out. Thanks!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
FKK: CROISSANTS!!!!!!! Won’t eat ’em, don’t eat ’em… they are just too damn good!!! Danger danger danger!!
FP: Oh croissants! We know exactly how you feel…
Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
FKK: Stevie Nicks! If I got to have her over for dinner, I would probably also invite Lauren (because why should I be so selfish and not share!) and I would let Stevie bring whoever she wanted. I am sure that she has some sort of dietary specification so I would have to know that before choosing something to make for her, but whatever it was it would be magical and she would want to be my friend.
FP: In three words, how would your friends and family describe you.
FKK: “Top shelf bubbles” -Chino, Minetta Tavern
FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies?
FKK: Before I decided to be a chef, I was going to study acupuncture so I imagine I would be practicing some form of alternative medicine now had I not chosen this path. When I am not doing something food related, I enjoy having coffee or just hanging out with my nearest and dearests, riding my bicycle, exercising (Insanity / Yoga/Nick), being the #1 Liza Colby Sound fan, and pole dancing with all the lovely ladies at S Factor!! I am also really good at making mixes, wire sculptures, flower arrangements, and still life dioramas.
FP: Thank you again for your time. We wish you (and Lauren) continued success with BigLITTLE Get Together and hope to see you two with your own TV show!
You can learn more about Chef Flannery and BigLittle Get Together at http://www.biglittlenyc.com/main.html.