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The Wooden Spoon Team of Chefs
Alexandra "Alix" StricklerPoe
Alix has had a passion for cooking since she was a small child in her Grandma’s kitchen. During her 12 year career, she has worked under some of Chicago’s best. She has worked her way up in each kitchen, from pantry cook to sauté, sauté to poissonnier (fish), poissonnier to tournant (roundsman), tasting Chef, and event Chef. She has a wide knowledge of world cuisine having graduated from the BA culinary program at Kendall College in Chicago, and having traveled with the school to the Mediterranean region of France. She excels at teaching others her craft and gets great pleasure out of making cooking fun and approachable for all.
Scott has been a private chef in the towers of Michigan Avenue to homes on the North Shore. What makes the culinary arts interesting to me, is the varied opportunities I have had and the experiences that this industry has provided.
My formal education was at Kendall College, graduating at the top of my class with a complete 2-year degree. I have worked in bakeries, managed boutique café kitchens and have worked with Chefs such as Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill) and Bruce Shermer (North Pond Café) in forging the path for Organic Farmers Markets in Chicago.
Stepping into the educational part of the culinary field provides me with an opportunity to share my knowledge and inspire “good food” through eclectic menus and challenging techniques.
If I were to pick the most import elements about teaching, it would be to educate folks about food, teach them how to cook it well and most of all, bring people together to enjoy the one thing that we all have in common: eating. So remember to take time in your life to make good food, sit with friends, family or someone you don’t know and salute life, eat well, laugh and enjoy!
Alekka is Executive Chef and Owner of Give Me Some Sugar. Alekka dreamed up her company in 2006, and has since found it to be a perfect venue to integrate her culinary talents with her love of hospitality and pnique business that provides at-home culinary instruction for both adults and children in a social atmosphere.
Alekka has appeared on the WGN Morning News and on 190 North as well as featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago and Daily Candy.
From a young age, Alekka Sweeney enjoyed the communal, creative feel engendered by a warm, busy kitchen. She started her culinary career baking bread at her mother’s side and later learned to enjoy quality wine from her father.
Alekka graduated from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts with an externship with Master Pastry Chef Gunther Heiland, and took an in-depth course on pastry arts at Ottawa’s Le Cordon Bleu. She went on to work as Assistant Pastry Chef for Atlanta’s Bold American Food Company for five years. There, she developed and planned dessert menus for the company’s three restaurants, including The Food Studio, as well as its catering company. She garnered an Employee of the Year Award in 1999.
Less than one month after making the move to Chicago in 2002, Chef Alekka took part in the One Day Stage with Gale Gand at Tru. She worked with pastry staffs at the Hotel Inter-Continental, Bon Appetit at the Art Institute of Chicago and Giselles. She also designed and assembled cakes, tempered chocolates and helped develop new products at Vosges Haut Chocolates.
As long as people in Chicago love food—making it and eating it—Chef Alekka will be in business.
I started cooking at the age of 15 in my home town of Oak Park and I immediately fell in love with the craft. Upon graduating in ‘92 from the CIA in Hyde Park NY, I took a job as saucier for the Dining Room at the Ritz Carleton in Chicago under the Direction of Sarah Stegner. After my tenure there I took a job as Sous Chef at Le Bouchon where I opened the restaurant. There will always be a special place in my heart for that restaurant as I can still go in there today and see the bar I helped carry in.
After that I took a job as Executive Chef at Café Absinthe in Bucktown where I garnered acclaim as rising chef of the year in 1997 by the Chicago Sun Times. I have also been Executive Chef at Gioco and Marche.
After leaving the restaurant life I turned my passion to hotels where I held positions such as Executive Sous Chef at InterContinental Chicago, Executive Chef at InterContinental Harbor Court in Baltimore and Executive Banquet Chef at the iconic Drake Hotel. Most recently I held the position of Executive Sous Chef at The Standard Club.
I absolutely love food and cooking and believe that eating well is a gift. There is nothing more gratifying than taking the mystery out of cooking and sharing my passion to the masses.
Originally from South Carolina and an attendant of the Culinary Institute of Charleston, Ginn began his career as a busboy at a seafood restaurant. After less than a month of employment, he joined the kitchen team. “It was a totally different environment,” Ginn remembers. “One that led to a passion for cooking and learning at an early age.”
Advancing quickly, Ginn soon found himself working as sous chef for notable Charleston restaurant Trattoria Lucca under Chef Ken Vedrinski. This pivotal experience granted Ginn his first exposure to the traditional execution of Italian fare. Watching Chef Vedrinksi’s flawless preparation allowed Ginn to learn from Vedrinski’s expert craftsmanship and dedication.
In 2011, Ginn moved to Chicago to become one of the original culinary forces behind Davanti Enoteca - the rustic Italian concept from Francesca’s Restaurant Group - which was named 20 top Italian restaurants in America by The Daily Meal. Chef Richard Ginn was also the Chicago winner of the Urban Chefs Recipe Challenge 2013.
Richard is also the owner of Riftsawn Woodworks, a custom furniture design and construction company here in Chicago. To learn more about Richard go to www.riftsawnwoodworks.com
Chris "Christy" Meyer