Young and Hungry

Personal Chef Neil Wilson on Bibles, Lemon Zest, and Thanksgiving Leftovers

This is personal Chef Neil Wilson. He used to be in the army—but now he makes delicious ravioli (seen here in its pressed dough, pre-stuffed from). Before becoming a personal chef, Wilson attended L'Academie de Cuisine and then worked as a line cook for Palena.

Here are some of his cooking tips:

  • Buy this book:The Flavor Bible. Look up any popular ingredient, and it will provide a rundown of complimentary herbs, spices and foods, and other cuisines in which the ingredient is featured.
  • Every time you add a major ingredient to a dish, add a pinch of salt.
  • Lemon zest is an easy way to enhance a dish—but only use the very top of the lemon. Once you see white, you're getting the bitter stuff.
  • Tired of eating left-over thanksgiving day side dishes? Just put them in home-made ravioli, freeze them, and eat when you desire. Good side dishes to consider: Creamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes (with a little added cheese), roasted squash.
  • Here's an easy, sure-fire pasta sauce recipe that will make anyone believe you're a personal chef: Toast fennel seeds until you start to smell the scent wafting around kitchen. Take them out. Put them on a plate and set them aside. Then, in a pan:
  • Slowly cook onions over a low heat, so they don't brown too much.
  • Add a "seasonal twist"–whatever's tasty then: Zucchini, squash, carrots, celery.
  • Throw in a can of san marzano tomatoes.
  • Add some diced garlic cloves.
  • Cook for an hour.
  • Then, add in the toasted fennel seeds and a cinnamon stick.
  • Cook for another 55 minutes. Then add in black olives and cook for another five minutes. Done.
  • Mary Cox Branch

    May I speak from personal experience? This man is a wonder in the kitchen! His foods reflect his personality- gentle, kind, delicious, innovative, and exciting.

  • Ashley Tucker

    Neil Wilson does wonders in a kitchen. I have had the pleasure of dining with Neil on numerous occasions and am always amazed by his use of flavors and what comes out from his stove! His meals tantalize the tastebuds. I am so glad he has written cooking tips for we novices in the kitchen. Thank you, Chef!