On the Job With Stir Cooking School Instructor Kate Delciampo

Kate DelCiampo at Stir Cooking School has the recipe to take your cooking from meh to Michelin.

Kate Delciampo
Photo by Jake Holschuh.

Kate DelCiampo developed her first recipe when she was 6 years old. The cheffy concoction consisted of melted ice cream and cake mashed together, and the process was, of course, top secret. After graduating from The Institute of Culinary Education with a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management and working in several New York restaurants, she became the lead chef instructor at Denver’s Stir Cooking School. We asked her to share her recipe for success in the kitchen. Here’s what she had to say:

“My day typically starts with ordering food for Stir’s cooking classes. Since we are such a small, local business, we can’t use a huge food purveyor. That means that we get some things from Restaurant Depot, and other times we are picking up groceries from Sprouts for a one-off class. Then I start prepping everything, which involves a lot of chopping and measuring.”

“My favorite thing to cook is Asian food. Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese—those cuisines really balance flavors to get the most out of a dish. Nothing is just one note. You get to dive into your spice rack and build and layer the flavors into something really bold. My favorite food is spicy, sour, and sweet all at once.”

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“I also enjoy teaching people to cook large portions of meat. For some reason those cuts—pork tenderloin, a rack of lamb—intimidate people. I love teaching them that it is actually very achievable. Same thing with rolling sushi.”

“The most rewarding part of teaching people to cook is when I hear someone say ‘I never would have thought to do it like that,’ or ‘Wow, that makes this a lot easier.’ It’s those little tips and tricks that really help a home cook.”

“Some tips I give to every home cook stress preparation. First off, you should always mise en place, meaning prep your station by washing, cutting, and measuring out all your ingredients ahead of time. When doing the cutting, you want to use a nice knife. It doesn’t have to be the top of the line, but you should plan to spend about $50 on it—and then maintain it. Take your knife to a professional shop every three to six months for sharpening.”

“I mostly teach at Stir’s downtown location attached to Pirate Alley Boucherie. I recently helped open that space, and it’s been really great for the cooking school. The larger layout allows for a wider variety of classes. Along with the ones we offer at our Highland location, the downtown school also hosts workshops for things like cheese making and charcuterie board building. We even throw events like murder mystery dinners—a ton of fun and there’s always great food.”