Raised by restaurateurs in Chicago, now currently based in Vermont. Chef Contos is on a mission to bring back the joy of home cooking. But beyond cooking classes she is also a big proponent of kitchen fundamentals and vegetable gardening.
Contos' love affair with all things culinary began at a young age and since then nothing has stopped her from exploring all the facets of the culinary world! She is an expert in her culinary field.Contos has been teaching and spreading her enthusiasm to the public since 2000. Her excitement in the kitchen is contagious and this is one of the ways her passion sparkles. Recipe writing and developing fun seasonal and international cooking classes is an art she has mastered. Contos is passionate about local and organic foods, and supporting farms in many ways. You will find her recipes celebrated by many including the Vermont Cheese Council and Culture Magazine. Growing up among Chicago's culinary masterminds, her inspiration for the culture of gourmet cuisine was instilled in her from the beginning. Courtney was raised running around her father's side at the family restaurants, one of the restaurants Chez Paul (1948-1992), is still remembered by many locals in Chicago. It was through her father's eyes that she began to develop a true understanding of the restaurant business.She placed this experience into a technical framework with a hospitality and culinary arts degree (1996-1998) from Chicago's Kendall College. During culinary school, Chef Contos was honored to be chosen to have a culinary internship at Charlie Trotter's restaurant where she earned Kendall's Outstanding Internship Award. After graduating from Kendall College in 1998, Contos was sought out by Charlie Trotter for a full-time chef position because he recognized her raw talent, eagerness to learn and her passion for excellence and creativity in new dishes. Trotter further recognized her talents by having Contos assist him in his national cooking show. After leaving "Trotters" Contos opened her own business traveling throughout the United States preparing lavish gourmet parties for upscale well-known clients, this included menu development, providing top notch wait staff, flower arranging, wine paring, table decorating, and exquisite meal preparation and service, Contos is still called upon today. Furthering Contos' recipe development she went to NYC and tested recipes for Martha Stewart's magazine "Every Day Food" (2002).Along with her own business, Contos was culinary instructor at The Chopping Block Cooking Schools in Chicago (2003-2006) and Kendall College. She taught cooking classes in a hands-on and demonstration environment for up to sixteen attendees. She was executive chef instructor for Cook Academy at The Essex Resort & Spa 2006-2010.Contos joined the blogging world in 2006, her blogs "Edible Moments" and "Eat Out Vermont" have a large following and rich culinary archive. In 2008, she wrote the very first "Cooking Fresh" article in Edible Green Mountains Magazine. Her recipes are also featured in the national "Edibles" cookbook. Over the years Contos has produced and appeared on many TV cooking segments, including Vermont Public Television (watch). She has a monthly cooking segment on WCAX Channel 3 (watch videos on home page) and adores celebrating seasonal recipes highlighting Vermont farm fresh foods. Last year her passion for national food news led her to an internship working on FOOD52's news feed. Contos is now a regular on WVMT 620am reporting food news the second Monday of every month.
Along with Chef Contos Kitchen & Store, her time is shared consulting for the Vermont Cheese Council, food writing, teaching vegetable gardening, hunting quality food news, and regular TV appearances. She has been featured in Vermont Life Magazine, New York Times, Burlington Free Press, Vermont Magazine, Seven Days, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other local papers.
Contos' enthusiasm has spread to collecting kitchen antiques, beekeeping, organic vegetable gardening, and staying involved as a Master Gardner.
"Only the freshest and healthiest ingredients inspire the meals I prepare. Whenever possible I cook seasonally, buy from local farms and source out organic products, because the quality and taste of these foods is much higher than the "grocery-store" alternatives. The time and effort spent in seeking out the best sources for ingredients pays off in a beautiful meal. For over sixteen years I have been writing about, teaching, growing, sourcing and preparing food."
Your chef friend in Vermont,