CHEAT AND EAT
Locally created cooking cheat sheets demystify cooking techniques.
WRITTEN BY CATHERINE ENFIELD
PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPHANIE STIAVETTI
Stephanie Stiavetti with her cooking cheat sheets
Stephanie Stiavetti knew she was on to something when chefs and restaurateurs started buying her Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets. After all, her initial intent had been to create them for beginning cooks who needed help in the kitchen, not for seasoned professionals. The fact that the professionals were buying them for their own staffs both surprised her and confirmed that she had created a useful tool.
Stiavetti has been studying cooking herself for several years. She graduated from The French Pastry School in Chicago, took culinary classes at American River College in Sacramento, and even studied butchering and charcuterie on a pig farm in the south of France. She holds certificates for artisan cheese and cheese mongering. She says she always has wanted to teach people to cook.
“I found that it was more an issue of people deciding they were too intimidated to cook, that the techniques scared them,” Stiavetti says. “I wanted to build a foundation of easy wins because after a person has a few wins, the disbelief suddenly goes away and the person’s confidence grows.”
The idea for the cheat sheets first came to Stiavetti six years ago, but it wasn’t until she had shoulder surgery last summer that she was stuck at home with time on her hands to flesh out the idea. By the end of October, she had her first two sets completed. Sold on her Fearless Fresh website, all sheets are coated in heavy stock lamination and three-hole punched for handy storage in a binder. Digital versions also are available.
Series 1 covers such topics as cooking oils’ shelf life, pasta measurements, and cooking cuts. The most popular pages are the guide tables for making a variety of compound butters and salad dressings and how and when to use them.
Series 2 is devoted to measurements. It covers conversions of wet and dry goods, metric and imperial measures, and temperatures along with dividing recipes in half. It also addresses baking pan sizes and modifying recipes for each.
Stiavetti’s intent is to create a couple of series each quarter. Upcoming ones will include the mother sauces, butcher cuts of various meats, and proper cooking times and temperatures of meats.
Cooking lessons and discussions also can be found on her group Facebook page.
“I was getting too many emails asking for cooking help and advice,” Stiavetti says. “It was getting a bit overwhelming, so I created the Facebook community so that everyone could help each other.”
The group, Fearless Fresh Kitchen Ninjas, now has more than 1,200 members, most of whom are beginners looking for help from the seasoned cooks who help Stiavetti moderate and answer the questions.
“It’s the friendliest place on the Internet!” she says. “Everyone is friendly and helpful. It’s a great educational resource through community.”
Catherine Enfield has been writing about Sacramento’s food scene since 2007. She’s a frequent contributor to edible Sacramento, Sacramento Magazine, and Eater.com.
For details about Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets, visit Fearlessfresh.com, or find the Fearless Fresh Kitchen Ninjas page on Facebook.