The tasty life of a celeb chef
Venezuelan restaurateur and media personality Chef Lorena Garcia was influenced by the communal dining traditions of her family to make food her life’s great passion.
Chef Lorena (a name that slides on the tongue like a sugar-rolled churro) was in Phoenix in April teaching healthy eating and sharing ice cream with students at Wilson Elementary School at 2929 E. Fillmore. Her appearance was coordinated by Big Brothers Big Sister of Central Arizona.
Born in Venezuela, Garcia is a graduate of the Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts School. She hosts regular cooking segments on both the Univision and Telemundo television networks. She also created Food Cafe, and later Elements Tierra, two successful restaurants in Miami’s Design District featuring eclectic blends of Latin and Asian-inspired dishes. (Go to www.cheflorenagarcia.com to try out her Asian-influenced Latino recipes.)
“The main inspiration for my cooking is to bring loved ones together to enjoy wonderful food – it’s something that has always fulfilled me,” says Chef Lorena, who makes regular appearances on TV shows, has her own line of wines, and her own line of lifestyle products in department and gourmet stores.
Chef Lorena created her Big Chef, Little Chef, a hands-on cooking class and workshop program to help kids and their families take control of their eating habits and their health. At the same time, the program teaches parents the benefits and importance of adding more nutritious foods to their menus. (For more information visit her Web site.)
“I was traveling a lot and everywhere I went, I saw an obesity problem, especially in Hispanic families,” Chef Lorena recalls. “So I asked myself, ‘What can I do to make a difference in kids’ lives?”
While at Wilson, Lorena also promoting La Comunidad Comparte (Neighborhood Salute), a program sponsored by Dreyer’s Slow Churned brands of ice cream. It’s a national program in which Dreyer’s provides ice cream and party supplies for 100 guests at neighborhood get-togethers. The process involves a nomination application and an essay about why a community or neighborhood is worthy of receiving its own ice cream social. (www.slowchurned.com)
When she’s not in the kitchen or a classroom, Chef Lorena can be found at Latino festivals nationally and internationally cooking and sharing her recipes. Ah, life is tasty when you’re a celebrity chef.
Chef Lorena’s Summer Fruit Shortcake
• Dreyer’s Slow Churned Vanilla Yogurt Blends or
• Dreyer’s Slow Churned No Sugar Added Vanilla Light Ice Cream
• 1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk baking mix
• 1⁄2 cup sugar
• 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
• 3 egg whites, beaten
• 3 cups seasonal fruit (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, etc.)
• Fresh mint leaves to garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
To prepare shortcake: Combine baking mix and 1⁄2 cup sugar. Stir in yogurt and egg whites until dry ingredients are just moistened. Spread batter in greased 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
While the shortcake is cooling, combine fruit with remaining sugar to sweeten. Cover and refrigerate.
To Assemble: Soften ice cream or Vanilla Yogurt Blends at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes. Split shortcake in half horizontally, and place bottom layer, sliced side up, onto serving plate. Top with a layer of ice cream or yogurt blends (about 2 cups); place half of fruit mixture on top of yogurt. Repeat layers ending with fruit. Garnish with mint.