Raised by restaurateurs in Chicago, now currently based in Vermont and the Yucatan. Chef Contos is on a mission to bring back the joy of home cooking.
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. You will find her recipes celebrated by many including the Food & Wine Magazine, 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 Outstanding Internship Award. After graduating, 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 was executive chef instructor for Cook Academy at The Essex Resort & Spa 2006-2010. Contos joined the blogging world in 2006, her blog "CCKS Afterhours" where she reports food news and trends. 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, Chai Pilgrimage and The Vermont Farmhouse Cookbook. Over the years Contos has produced and appeared on over 100 TV cooking segments with morning news anchors. 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.
In 2015 her Al Pastor Taco recipes made the cover of Food & Wine magazine and her
school was named top three in the U.S and one of the best in the world!
Along with Chef Contos Kitchen & Store, her time is shared taking people on culinary vacations in the Yucatan, hunting quality food news, and regular TV appearances. She has been featured in Food & Wine, New England Home Magazine, Vermont Life Magazine, New York Times, Burlington Free Press, Vermont Magazine, Seven Days, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other local papers.
Fall 2018 Chef Contos will open Amor y Canela Cooking School with her husband in Valladolid, Yucatan.
"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,