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  • Chef Isabelle Langheim
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Chef Isabelle Langheim

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2019

Favorite class to teach: Macarons! The technique is fascinating and particular, and the end product is divine. It feels like going to a Parisian Patisserie for a few hours. 

Training/education: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts

Cooking since: I was two years old with the guidance of my mom.

Favorite childhood food experience: Grandma B’s slightly lopsided Red Velvet cake on Christmas Eve. It consisted of four layers of red velvet cake, with homemade cream cheese frosting dolloped between each and topped with red sugar sprinkles.   

What made you want to become a chef? I graduated college and couldn’t leave the kitchen. I only wanted to create, so I pursued culinary school to hone my skills.          .

What is your signature dish? NY Strip Steak seared on a cast-iron skillet, covered in a shallot and white wine steak sauce with a side of homemade gnocchi tossed in browned butter and sage.

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Unsalted butter, garlic, lemon, shallots, Sriracha 

What do you love about cooking? I love that it brings people together. Everyone has memories from cooking with loved ones or when a loved one has cooked for them. 

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I grasp inspiration from everything, most recently was a luncheon at my Grandma’s church. I loved how the church’s members brought different homemade desserts to share from mile high blueberry pie to gooey butter cake laden with cream cheese. Every person had perfected the recipe and was happy to share their secrets.

What advice would you give a new cook? Don’t be afraid of mistakes! My mom always told me eggs are cheap, it’s okay to throw them out and start again. 

What are you doing when you're not cooking? Read old cookbooks. I collect cookbooks and have over 1,000. 

Describe your perfect evening. After a sun-kissed day at the beach, I slice lemons to add to the pitchers of lemonade. My dad has two pots of Beaufort Stew (Low Country Boil) on the stove to feed twenty family and friends. Tables covered in newspaper are set up in the backyard. Dad throws the shrimp, corn, potatoes and sausage in the middle of the table and everyone feasts after a hard day of playing. 

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat?

  • Little Goat Diner - For breakfast
  • The Chicago Diner- If they’re a vegan
  • Big Star- If it’s gorgeous outside
  • Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse - For a classic Chicago Steakhouse experience
  • Spiaggia - If we’re feeling fancy 

Where are you from? Born in Chicago

What was your favorite vacation? Montréal with my family. We skied all day and grabbed sugar maple snow candy on the base of the mountain. 

What are your hobbies? Photography, picking at the guitar, painting

What is your favorite band? The Beatles

What is your favorite sports team? Cubs!

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Julia Child. I would love to cook dinner, specifically her signature Boeuf Bourguignon with her. That would be my dream.

What are your guilty pleasures? Boxed cake mix, minced garlic in a jar, and Tollhouse cookie dough

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Ina Garten

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen? A good cookbook for inspiration, a cutting board, a sharp 8-inch Chef’s knife, a dutch oven, and a nonstick pan.

What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? Instagram: I’ve discovered countless incredible chefs and recipes from browsing through Instagram. 

List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen. 

  • Put a damp towel underneath your cutting board to prevent your cutting board from sliding.

  • Write in your cookbooks; it will ensure you won’t make the same mistake twice. I think it makes a cookbook more valuable; I love cookbooks that have been lived in.

  • Use a small ice cream scoop to evenly portion cookie dough. Ice cream scoops are a game changer in the kitchen, you can use them to portion out muffins into tins or to plate mashed potatoes effortlessly. 

Isabelle's Favorite Cookware

indigodutchovenI love the Le Creuset Dutch Oven! I’m excited to cook anything in a dutch oven because it’s durable and great for braising, roasting, or cooking on a stovetop. 

It’s a classic and looks beautiful in the middle of a dinner table. The best part is uncovering the lid to show off the dish you just created.