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Chef Alia Dalal

Chef Alia Dalal began working in restaurants at age 16 and received her formal culinary training at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. With a passion for vibrant, natural cuisine, Chef Alia was named Healthy Cook of the Year in 2010 by Cooking Light magazine. After working in Michelin-starred kitchens in New York City and Chicago and an Ayurvedic destination spa in India, she realized that what she was really interested in was helping people eat quality, real food everyday, so she opened and continues to operate a personal chef business in Chicago. Chef Alia runs Chicago's only plant-based underground fine dining event: Seek Supper Club. She has taught cooking classes in hospitals, food co-ops and cooking schools, and was also named a finalist 2013 in WTTW's search for a host for the Chicago cult restaurant review TV show Check, Please!

Alia's Favorite Tool

OxoSaladSpinnerIf you are looking to upgrade your kitchen tools, I doubt a salad spinner is at the top of the list. After all, there are so many sexier kitchen gadgets to choose from like the ice cream maker, olive pitter, and even the Thermapen. (For the record, I have all of these too).

But if you are wanting to commit to a healthier lifestyle, consider adding a salad spinner to your kitchen. It allows you to clean and dry leafy greens like kale, spinach, arugula, collards and chard for salads, smoothies, and cooking in just a few seconds.

It's also going to save you money in the long run - now you can buy a bunch of baby spinach in the produce section for $.99 instead of the bagged, cleaned greens for $3.99. After a 3-second spin in the salad spinner, you'll have cleaner, fresher, cheaper and more diverse leafy greens to eat. The salad spinner is also my go-to tool for cleaning and drying herbs like parsley and cilantro to store in the fridge and for drying blanched vegetables so they aren't sopping wet. It even doubles as an extra colander in a pinch. Although I've only been teaching at The Chopping Block for a year, most of the staff knows to set out the salad spinner for me - I use it in every class!