Our Culinary Team is responsible for every recipe Plated customers cook, love, and remember. Every day, the chefs in our Test Kitchen dream up dinner ideas and make them a reality for home cooks all over the country. And their mission is simple: to make delicious dinners accessible for culinary novices and experts alike. Because everyone deserves to experience the joy that comes from making a meal from scratch.
Andrea, Elana, Michelle, and Tim are, of course, pros in the kitchen, but we thought people should see what else they’ve got going on (because they’re pretty great). Here’s your chance to get to know the fun, entertaining, food-centric folks who make the magic happen—in our kitchen and yours.
Meet Michelle, Our Test Kitchen Manager
Michelle studied undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and got her BA in Communication Arts (TV, radio, and film). After graduating, she had a change of heart and decided to enroll in the Culinary Arts Program at The International Culinary Center in SoHo, Manhattan (formerly the French Culinary Institute). There, she took night classes three nights a week from 6–11 PM for 10 months, learning classic French cooking.
A hard question but, I love dessert. If there were no health consequences, I would have dessert for every meal. My favorite dessert (to make and eat) is ice cream.
What’s one of your earliest food memories?
I was about four years old and I loved the movie Sleeping Beauty. I was watching it while stirring icing to make cupcakes and I remember wanting to make the icing green like Maleficent’s face.
What’s your most-loved Plated recipe?
One that I’ve gotten more than once is the Peanut Chicken Curry Over Sticky Rice. Up until that recipe, I had never had curry with peanut butter mixed in and it’s so rich. The chicken gets poached in the coconut milk and the sticky rice is so freaking good.
Go-to recipes from the Plated cookbook?
The spiced nuts are really, really good. They’re made with butter, ground sugar, chili powder, Thai chili, thyme, and rosemary.
Chefs that inspire?
My grandma. She and my mom were born in Cuba, so my grandma would always bring a huge dish of arroz con pollo over and it was the best. She would also make this coconut cake that was layered and sweet inside with shredded coconut pressed into the frosting. She was just an amazing cook and she would always say “it was nothing” when people complimented things she made. Everything always looked delicious and tasted like she was professionally trained—but she was always so humble about it.
How has your personal approach to cooking evolved over the years?
I went from being super strict to taking a much more inclusive, everything-in-moderation approach. I’ve learned to value taste and texture over counting calories.
What’s your favorite cooking TV show?
I really like Chopped . I’ll see what they open in the box and I wonder what I would do and how I would use the items they’re given.
What’s your favorite trick or lesson from culinary school?
My first day of culinary school, I sliced my thumb open and had to leave and go to the hospital to get stitches. I went back the second day and I had a huge bandage on my thumb for the first month of culinary school and I just had to not feel discouraged. There’s no time for that—if you’re dedicated then you’re fine.