The Tuesday Thirteen: Ally’s Kitchen
The Tuesday Thirteen
Alice D’Antoni Phillips, Ally’s Kitchen
If you know her you love her, she is Alice D’Antoni Phillips of Ally’s Kitchen. She wears many hats and is aspiring to do so many great things with her blog and personal life. Read on as Ally discusses being a top 100 contestant on Master Chef, her mother that has been such an inspiration, and some unbelievable adventures she has been on with her husband.
Ally, you are “Bohemian Bold”! Can you explain what that means to you?
Ally The Bohemian Bold culinary style means taking peasant everyday ingredients and transforming them into something chic and luxurious—it’s making each and every eating experience unique and special. Whether you are cooking pinto beans or cornbread, how do you ‘luxurify’ these earthy ‘blue collar’ foods? You ‘boho’ them! It’s not only the preparation of the food, but the serving of the food that creates the chic eating experience. I have some videos on my ‘Act Your Age’ Video Channel on my website that shows you how I do this!
Growing up in Southern West Virginia, the mountains of Appalachia, meant learning two big ‘Rs’ of life—resourcefulness and resiliency—when you cook the Bohemian Bold way you think global, you think economically, you think unpretentious, you think bucolic, albeit chic!
Where does your cooking inspiration come from and what types of food will we find in your kitchen?
Ally Cooking inspiration comes from the most bizarre and unlikely things, places, events—it’s usually when I’m not cooking that I’m really cooking, in my head. I wake at night with ideas—I dream in technifood color—that’s why it’s important to expand my life way beyond the kitchen b/c that’s where the world is eating and that’s inspiration. My kitchen is replete with spices from around the world, atypical spices, new trendy and vogue spices, like garam masala or vadovan. I have a lot of beans, heirloom beans, lots of fresh farmers market vegetables. Neighbors bring me things – like today, my girlfriend who has a prolific fig tree brought me a big container of figs, and I made the most divine ‘Fresh Whole Fig & Mango Goat Cheese Pastries’ that, by the way, I took to my hair salon since I was getting my do done—they loved it!
I’m going to have to get that recipe! You weren’t always solely cooking – in fact you are a Doctor, author, developer and an actress and you also practiced as an Educational Therapist and School Psychologist. You have worn a few more hats in between, but let’s not forget you are also a mom. Wow. How did you get where you are today?
Ally I got to where I am today because of an incredible mother…a woman who sacrificed her life for her children after our dad died when we were young. She hammered into our heads the importance of education, although she’d not finished high school, but went on to earn her GED and eventually a college degree. She, like her mother (my Croatian grandmother who came to America very young looking for a new life), were immensely talented, vogue, chic, and creative women who were far ahead of their times—my mother and grandmother were the ‘Martha Stewarts’ in the 1940s, but their paths certainly didn’t lead to a MS empire—more importantly, to leaving a legacy to us children, the grandchildren and great grand children that has allowed all of us to far exceed the American Dream. From Ivy League schools to high-level positions in big corporations, I (and I think my family would much agree) am who I am because of this incredible woman. Of course, along my path of life, I’ve had several mentors and great people who have refined and exposed me to more than I ever dreamed, but Mom planted and cultivated that seed.
Of course I can’t interview you without mentioning Master Chef. I love that show and you were a season 2 top 100 contestant! Tell us about that experience and are Chefs Ramsay, Bastianich and Elliott as cool as they seem?
Ally MasterChef is not for the faint of heart. What an experience! It was humiliating, exasperating, yet, gratifying—it allowed me to move to the next level of my culinary passion, and that’s what’s most important about being cast on MC. When you compete with literally thousands nationwide for a coveted top 100 slot, you have to be good, you have to have more than just culinary passion and the ability to cook—and, yes, the judges, Chef Ramsay, Bastinaich and Elliott can whack you off at the knees, that’s for sure. But, they can’t take away the passion regardless of their comments or feedback!
Your mantra, if you will, is to live life to the fullest. What is something you have done that you would say everyone should try at least once?
Ally Gosh, there are a few things that have taken me to the next level of life—what I mean by that is pushing myself to do something that I never thought I could do. One, is hiking with my husband and two good friends the Grand Canyon from rim to rim—it’s no easy feat, and it’s not for sissies. You have to pack everything in and everything out—that pack’s on your back! There are treacherous trails, drop offs of thousands of feet, but there’s no way to see the GC other than by foot b/c if you just stand at the top and look around you’re missing the mystery and majesties of desserts, waterfalls, trails, and other things that are hidden in this wonder of the world. Another thing I’ve done with my husband, and it was just a few months ago, was to Bike Colorado to raise money for MS. We love to cycle, but neither of us had biked in two days 150 miles…we did it…riding with thousands of bikers we started in Denver and rode to Ft. Collins…no, it wasn’t easy, yes, it was hotter than hades at times, but each rotation of the pedal got us closer to the finish line, and riding into that finish line was exhilarating to say the least!
Do you think many chefs take their jobs too seriously – if so, is it warranted?
Ally Well, I’m not familiar with too many real professional chefs…I recently had Chef Anthony Sasso of NYC’s trendy eatery, Casa Mono Bar Jamon (owned by Mario Batali), actually come to my home, stay w/us a couple of nights, and prepare a 6-course dinner for 10 of my guests…I’d won a contest, and Chef Sasso was the prize. Now this young chef was not too serious—he was boatloads of fun. See for yourself—here’s some of the fun we had!
As for other chefs, I don’t know…I suppose if you’re in charge of some big fancy dining, demanding testy eaters, then you might have to be demanding of your staff and come across as a gnarly task-master!
You are invited to an island party and are told to bring a dish. What would your choice be?
Ally Oh, that’s fun…and I know what it’d be…my bean salad…full of heirloom variety beans, lots of fresh veggies, very colorful, festive and a meal in itself…the kind of thing that just gets better day after day!!
What is your process for recipe creation and development?
Ally Recipe creation for me is instinctive…I’m not afraid to try new combinations, spices, herbs…I’m not afraid to make mistakes…some of my best creations have come through blunders and mess ups. I like to look at ingredients and try to imagine them in different forms—from shapes to textures to presentation and plating—not the traditional way something would be used…that’s the essence of Bohemian Bold cooking—being unconventional and different—that’s what bohemian is. I like to look at everyday ingredients and find ways to shape them differently…like mac n’ cheese…I ‘boho’d’ it making it into a stylish model…you’ll have to go to my website to see it!
We have become social network buddies (or at least that’s what I like to tell people;)), you are so fun and real! What is your favorite social network right now?
Ally Definitely my favorite social network is Facebook…there’s such an active and incredible foodie universe…I’ve made amazing friends, and it’s a network of supportive making each other better…I created what I call ‘The Boho Tribe’ on FB, where we’re now about 150 strong, and at my website…my goal for these folks is to use the synergy of the group to make each of us better—that’s what it’s all about, sharing your talents, giving of yourself, paying it forward to make others better w/o any expectation of anything in return.
You have 26 pinboards on Pinterest. What is your favorite board?
Ally Oh, that’s like asking me which of my five kids I love most or is my favorite! Not fair!! Ha! I really love my board ‘I am Bohemian’…it reflects me, what’s inside me, what makes me tick…the ‘I love Retro’ board brings such joy to me…lets me reminisce, reflect and see from whence I’ve come…kind of grounds me b/c many of the things I pin there remind me of growing up. Then, of course, I think the board ‘Yep, I’ve Cooked All these Things’ kind of takes me aback when I look at it and think, dang, girl, you been doin’ some serious cookin’ and it’s a wonder you’re not two axe handles wide!!
Of all of the places you have lived and traveled, where would you go tomorrow?
Ally Definitely back to Eastern Europe…not only the food, but the people…it’s part of my roots…I’m Croatian, I love those Slavic countries…also I’m bohemian and a gypsy, I was shaped by the 1960s…I was definitely a flower child and a hippie…and, now in my 60s I’m back in the 1960s!
Will we be lucky enough to get a cookbook or a cooking show out of you?
Ally Oh, I have BIG BIG dreams—that’s one fire in my belly that hasn’t dimmed even though I’m in my 60s. I see so many things that I can do—I’d like to have a line of Boho products from food to dinnerware, napkins, aprons, potholders, kitchenware and even fashion, scarves, jewelry and other things. I can see a ‘Boho’ entertaining book with things like ‘Boho Romatic Dinners’ ‘Boho Picnics’ I can show others how to electrify their life without a lot of investment and money…consignment stores, thrift stores, yard sales…so many beautiful things there for entertaining and making life fun. And, of course, a show…my husband is hilarious, our life is a blended marriage of 5 kids, 5 grandkids, 3 in-laws, living in different places, doing zany things physically that you wouldn’t expect for our ‘age’ and I think it would be entertaining but, more importantly, inspiring to others.
What is next for Ally Phillips?
Ally I have a foxy creative and big idea ‘branding and communications specialist’ w/whom I’m working. We’re launching more things for Ally’s Kitchen, the website, and finding partnerships and sponsorships that reflect our image and brand. I’m going to have to get some help b/c right now, I’m like a one-woman machine, and I need 50 hours in each day…I do make time for yoga and cuddling w/my honey bunny, Ben, but he’d say not nearly enough! Ally Phillips has uncharted territory out there…I’m open to ideas—I just have to stay healthy to keep up with myself!
Be sure to keep up with Ally on her Website and all of her favorite social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram (@allyskitchen).
The Tuesday Thirteen is an interview series that asks thirteen questions to your favorite people in food. If you have questions you are curious to ask food bloggers, cookbook authors, publicists, food photographers, etc., please send your questions to email@example.com.