Chef Elise Wiggins is here! I got to sit down and talk with Chef Elise of Panzano about home cooking, flavor profiles, and recipe development. Not only that, she shared a recipe with me, which I’m sharing with you, AND I got to taste one the dishes on the new menu. I know, right? Let me tell you, this woman is a force of nature. When I arrived at Panzano she was finishing up a staff meeting, talked to me while cooking through the lunch rush, and smiling for the video camera that was her next appointment. She is like her food, vibrant, approachable, and thoughtful. With a beautiful smile that lights her whole face, she was gracious and generous.
One of the first things we spoke about is her total immersion in cooking and food. She says she’s always known that she wanted to be a chef. One of her earliest memories was being held by her mom who was putting her little hands into cool cookie dough. The cookies they prepared made her family happy. Cookies = happiness. That’s what she was going to do, cook and make people happy. I asked her if she wasn’t a chef what would she be doing. She said she couldn’t imagine doing anything else and had never thought of doing anything else. She’s a cookbook junkie (like me) who spends her days off reading cookbooks, getting inspiration, and creating new dishes in her mind. There doesn’t seem to be much that she does that doesn’t involve food or cooking in some way. She’s out sourcing local ingredients and suppliers, leading cooking classes, or grabbing a bite at a favorite restaurant. Her current fave is really good mexican, other than Italian of course.