Chef Katy Lopez is a blogger, research analyst, mother, and ultimately, a foodie. Her blog Katy’s Cookin is a stunning and mouthwatering destination for at-home chefs while her instagram @katyscookin has easy visual how-to’s for novice cooks.
Katy will be our guest expert at Gardenuity’s free virtual Pepper Party on Saturday May 30th. During the pepper party, she will share her in-depth knowledge on peppers, teach us how to make a tasty pepper craft cocktail, and share her favorite pepper recipes.
In preparation for the event, we spoke to Katy this week to get to know her and unveil a few details about the upcoming party.
Q: How did you get into cooking?
A: So I’ve always loved cooking. My mom is great cook, my aunt wrote a cookbook — my family is very culinary centered. Right after college, I graduated from TCU with a business degree and went to work for a marketing firm and I knew it wasn’t for me.
So I started going to culinary school nights and weekends for the next year. I catered some and I eventually started working for a small Italian food company. A year into that, I left the company and started working for the law firm that I work for now as a research analyst.
Before I had children, I was catering on the side doing smaller parties, art gallery openings, etc. When I had my children, I took a break, and I’ve now just begun Katy’s Cookin.
Q: What do you focus on in your blog?
A: Well, it’s funny that you ask, because initially, I was intending to focus on entertaining. Since the pandemic, I’ve had to pivot and offer information about cooking from home, organizing the pantry, etc.
Essentially though, I want people to go to my blog and discover recipes that aren’t super complicated and easy to make for a family or crowd. My saved stories are really helpful for newer cooks — especially if you’re a visual learner.
Q: What are your favorite types of peppers?
A: I would say jalapeño. We use jalapeños the most and they’re easy to find in grocery stores — especially in Texas. The kicker with that is you have to like a little bit of heat. I’m a big fan of pickling them or candying them.
Next up would probably be bell peppers. They’re just so versatile.
Q: What’s your favorite way to use peppers?
A: Oh I love spicy foods, so we do a lot of peppers at our house. We have a fresh salsa all the time; in the summer I love to make mango chutney. We also do a ton of fajita veggies where we can grow peppers and onions, cook them, and keep a batch in your fridge. They’re easy to throw into eggs, tortillas, or bowls. We rarely go a day or two without eating peppers at my house.
Q: When you cook for yourself (or for work), what is important to you when you source your ingredients?
A: I am really picky about my fresh produce. Although, there are certain things you’ve got to make exceptions for if you don’t want to go to 14 grocery stores. For me, there’s a lot of factors that go into it — figuring out what’s going to last in the fridge, reducing waste, buying local.
Additionally, I make sure that, for the “dirtiest” conventional products, I get organic as much as possible. I always take a cost effective approach to it because, as much as I’d love to buy everything organic, it does add up.
Q: Do you garden?
A: Honestly, I am not an excellent gardener. My taco toppings garden is doing great — I’m paying great attention to it. Plus, the Gardenuity kits make it so easy. But for some reason, we have a ridiculous amount of squirrels that eat all the gardens in our yard…
Q: Can you tell the difference between grocery store produce and homegrown produce?
A: For herbs, absolutely. I find that at the grocery store, store-bought herbs are not nearly as good as when you pull them off of a plant. Also, many herbs bought at the grocery stores don’t last very long. But my parents are good at gardening, so I do go over to their house and snip some of their stuff pretty often.
Q: Do you have any advice for new at-home chefs who want to start experimenting in the kitchen?
The biggest thing is to not be afraid to make mistakes. The only way you really learn to be comfortable is when you learn what works and what doesn’t. And you can’t learn until you start doing it.
People don’t like cooking because they never get comfortable with it. But when you do, you can experience the spontaneity and creativity of it!
Pepper Party Details
When: Saturday May 30, 2020 7:00pm CST
Where: Your living room, patio, or couch via Zoom call.
What: Celebrate peppers with Donna Letier of Gardenuity and Chef Katy Lopez by creating with and planting jalapeños. Dial in to learn, step-by-step, how to make Chef Katy Lopez’s famous Jalapeño deviled eggs and a craft cocktail. As you create with her, Chef Katy will share her expertise on peppers and how to use them.
Then, we’ll finish off the pepper party with Donna Letier as she teaches you how to plant and care for a container pepper garden.
You can Reserve your FREE pepper party ticket spot here.