Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen

Aida Mollenkamp Keys to the Kitchen Photo

I recently attended a cooking class taught by Aida Mollenkamp and sponsored by Fresh Starts Chef Events. Fresh Starts Chef Events are hosted by Homeward Bound, a provider of shelter and residential services for homeless families and individuals in Marin County. Homeward Bound desires to end homelessness in the area by empowering individuals with “training, housing and hope.” One way it desires to achieve this is through culinary training at its Fresh Starts Cooking School.

The Fresh Starts Cooking School not only teaches students, but also invites chefs to teach cooking classes, with the proceeds going towards job training for homeless adults. I was fortunate enough to attend one of these events with a dear friend who loves cooking and trying new things — aren’t those friends just the best? Our cooking instructor that evening was Aida Mollenkamp, author of Keys to the Kitchen and host of Cooking Channel’s FoodCrafters and host of Food Network’s former show Ask Aida. She had a truly delicious menu prepared, focusing on local and seasonal ingredients, which fits Marin County perfectly, since the area is known for its farm to table lifestyle.

– Caramelized Fennel & Fontina Tartelettes

– Little Gem Salad with Radish, Beets & Green Goddess Dressing

– Paprika-Spiced Smashed Baby Potatoes

– Pistachio-Crusted Salmon with Green Harissa

– Shortcakes with Citrus Compote & Orange Flower Cream

Everything was absolutely delectable, and the flavours melded beautifully. I have since made the potatoes and green harissa, which my family happily gobbled up. Hopefully, I’ll get to make the rest of the recipes soon (another thing on my never ending to-do list), as well as dive into Aida’s new Keys to the Kitchen book, which she graciously signed. If you live in Marin County, please do check out Fresh Starts Chef Events. It’s a wonderful way to support those in need, learn something new, have a fun evening out, and enjoy delicious recipes created by some of the finest chefs! 


  1. You highlight everything so beautifully with your photos, but it’s also wonderful that you give us an insight to the wonderful work that is being done by Fresh Starts. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Anne! Yes, Fresh Starts is doing wonderful work in the community and really empowering individuals with great dignity — so glad I could share!

  2. Love the photo collage you put together and how you highlighted each dish. The food photos look amazing, as always. My favorite is the picture of the shortcakes, but maybe that’s because I love desserts too much. :) The first salad picture is really pretty, too, with all of the vivid colors of the beets, watermelon radish and kumquats against the bright green lettuce.

    • Thank you, Craftinggirl! They did a great job making the food look and taste so good — all the flavour combinations were really delicious, and nothing felt heavy at all — just bright and flavourful!

    • Thank you so much, Paul, and thank you for the opportunity to experience all the wonderful things Homeward Bound is doing for those in need! All the best to you, Homeward Bound, and Fresh Starts Cooking School!

    • Thanks so much, Aida! It was so much fun, and you did a really great job teaching the class! I love how you used fresh, local ingredients and I’ve never tasted such sweet and tasty kumquats — I’ll have to find that tree you picked them from ;)! Thanks again, and all the best to you and your new book!

  3. Pingback: food photography | The Key Room « Neely Wang | Photography + Design

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