My Journey by Donna Karan

A millennial chef talks baking, traveling, and how to make a mean quinoa salad.
By Debbie L. Sklar

Blakely Trettenero is a bimbo and proud of it; but perhaps not the way you might think.

Trettenero is actually the host of the “Cooking for Bimbos” (www.cookingforbimbos.com) and “Hungry for Travels” (www.hungryfortravels.com) websites. She is also a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, as well as a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and she is becoming a frequent guest on TV.

“My dad actually helped me out with creating the name when I first started the blog in Culinary School. It’s meant to be funny, like ‘Cooking For Dummies,’” she says. “I’m not calling myself a bimbo or trying to be degrading; it’s supposed to be fun. Cooking is fun.”

Of course, while Trettenero can pretty much cook anything, it’s the sweets she enjoys the most.

“I really love to bake, maybe because dessert is my favorite meal of the day! One of the hardest things to make properly, which I hate to make, is a hollandaise sauce,” she says. “Too much fat or too much heat, it breaks and it can be tricky.”

Blakely Trettenero

Anyone Can Learn

Even if you aren’t into cooking like Trettenero, that’s OK, anyone can learn and enjoy mixing, baking, chopping, dicing and more.

For example, Trettenero says she believes the millennial generation is very much a “foodie generation.”

“We’re very health conscious and love trying different foods. Not everyone cooks, but I think a lot of people my age are receptive to trying. My advice is to start easy,” Trettenero says. “You can make something delicious with only a few steps and ingredients. Good food doesn’t always mean labor intensive.”

A TV Star?

And while Trettenero enjoys cooking for fun and via her websites, she has thought – and even tried her luck at being a TV personality at such places as the “Food Network.”

“I applied randomly for the ‘Next Food Network Star’ for this upcoming season,” she says. “I went through a few rounds of interviews but was never chosen for the actual season. Maybe next year.”

Bright Future

Her own favorite chefs are not who you might expect: “I really love and respect Ina Garten. I love her style of cooking and I enjoy watching her. I’m not a fan of the food competition shows to be honest. I like watching “Top Chef” every once in a while but I don’t see every episode.

As for the future of her food career, Trettenero says it looks bright: “My goal is to educate people on delicious food, however that may be. Whether it’s through the Internet or TV. I love what I do, I love food, and I love when people get excited about it as well.”

Does Trettenero ever think there are “too many chefs in the kitchen?”

“Never! Food to me means family, so when I’m cooking, everyone is in the kitchen. I love cooking with other people, it brings you closer together” Trettenero says.

Try It Yourself

So, if you are ready to tie on your own apron and get down to it, Trettenero suggest whipping up some international cuisine even though it may seem intimidating to anyone who’s not a “Top Chef.” In reality, it’s not difficult to add a pinch of foreign flavor to your kitchen, she says.

“While in Italy, I realized pasta in the United States is second rate,” Trettenero says. “That dried stuff we buy in a box doesn’t cut it. If you’ve ever had homemade pasta, you know what I mean.”

Once, after a night of dancing in Greece, Trettenero and others worked up an appetite and at 6 a.m. landed at a restaurant that never closes on Mykonos Harbor.

“We ordered this amazing chicken soup with fresh lemon juice squeezed on it,” she says. “It was unreal.”

Thai Style Quinoa

Here are two recipes from Trettenero to help bring a taste of international cuisine into your own home:

Thai Style Quinoa Salad

Salad ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1/4 red cabbage head, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup thawed edamame

Vinaigrette ingredients

  • Juice from 3 limes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Toppings (optional)

  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped unsalted peanuts
  • Grilled Chicken

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Put cooked quinoa in large mixing bowl. Add sliced cabbage, diced cucumber, shredded carrot, sliced scallion, edamame, and diced red bell pepper.
  2. In small bowl, mix the lime juice, minced garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, honey, and vegetable oil.
  3. Add the vinaigrette to the quinoa and mix everything until combined and coated in the vinaigrette.
  4. Serve in a bowl and add optional toppings.

Mediterranean Orzo Soup

Mediterranean Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
• 2 scallions, sliced thin
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 3/4 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
• 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
• 1 bag (6 oz.) baby spinach
• Juice of a lemon
• Salt
• Pepper
• Parmesan
Instructions
In heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil on medium high. Add garlic and scallions. Cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock to pot and turn on high. Let it come to boil. Add uncooked orzo, garbanzo beans, and zest of lemon. Stir and let cook on high for 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken, spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Give another quick stir and serve. Once in a bowl you can top it with shaved Parmesan, pepper, and an extra squeeze of lemon.

Bon Appétit!

www.cookingforbimbos.com

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