Manila Bulletin – Cooking it ‘Fresh’
December 1, 2010 —
Those of you who have been watching that sweetly entitled television show “Sugar” will remember Chef Anna Olson, who would briskly……
Those of you who have been watching that sweetly entitled television show “Sugar” will remember Chef Anna Olson, who would briskly sprinkle some powdered sugar on the marble tabletop, then with some deft hand movements, knead fondant into its pliable consistency. Or those episodes where she would instruct viewers about baking the perfect cookie, or bundt cake, or pavlova, or brownies, or death-by-chocolate cake, or just about any delectable dessert imaginable.
She even took it a step further by having some of her best girl friends prepare a wedding cake made of cupcakes. In its five-year run from 2002-2007, “Sugar” delighted the TV viewing of die-hard sweet-aholics.Six successful cookbooks later, Anna would return to the small screen with her current television program “Fresh with Anna Olson”. This time, she goes beyond confectionary and onto the realm of fresh ingredients. “Believe it or not,” Anna expounds, “the idea behind “Fresh” was not new. It is the way my husband Michael and I live every day. So while I was a professional pastry chef, at home we were cooking with local seasonal flavors, eating healthy and balanced.” “No,” the lady is quick to emphasize. “I do not eat cookies for dinner. Baking is my professional world but cooking with fresh ingredients is my real life.”Living in Ontario, surrounded by “prime Niagara farm and wine country”, Anna and Michael are blessed with the bounties of each season’s harvest. These are the ingredients that she uses for the various dishes she features on “Fresh”. “That really is our home,” Anna smiles, referring to the beautiful historic house dating back to the 1860s, albeit equipped with a modern kitchen, which is the venue for her on-air cooking demonstrations. “Some people think it’s a set. No, it’s our home.”Recently, the Olsons traveled far from home, from Canada all the way to Southeast Asia on Anna’s Sweet Secrets tour for the Asian Food Channel. On this trip, they visited Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Stalwart Anna Olson fans flocked to the culinary event which was held that Saturday at Greenbelt 5 in Ayala Center in Makati. Showing their undying support and eagerness to learn from the master lady chef, the audience appreciated Anna’s generosity in sharing her holiday recipes of Roast Pork Loin, Butter Tarts, and homemade ice cream. Yet the Olsons’ culinary adventures did not stop there. In fact, even on their first morning, they were already exploring different farmers’ markets in the metro. “It was amazing to see the local ingredients,” Anna exclaims. “I’m in love with calamansi; it’s the flavor that I’m going to bring home and definitely integrate into all of my baking and cooking.”A few days after the event, the Olsons were also seen eating their way through Pampanga, the country’s culinary capital. With their palates tickled by new flavors like lechon, kare-kare, bibingka, tocino, and other Filipino favorites, the chefs are eager to give it their own twist once they get home. Anna is excited. “We travel for food and so it constantly inspires us. Immediately when we get home, we’re going to start replicating things. I could see Michael doing a lechon. We actually do have a big barbecue with a spit and we can fit a whole pig in there.”So what’s the next course on the menu of Anna’s culinary journeys? Michael chimes in about “The Calamansi Chronicles”, or possibly “The Lechon Diaries”. But after a spate of giggles, she shares: “Right now, I am working on a new cookbook, a manuscript for a new cookbook that will come out next fall. Now that I’ve toured Southeast Asia, I’m going to try and see how I can get it distributed here. And then we’re working on an app, a downloadable app. But the television production, I can’t really talk about it. So you’ll just have to wait. Hopefully you’ll be, as I say, hungry for more.””Fresh with Anna Olson” airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on Asian Food Channel, Skycable Ch. 22. For more information, visit www.asianfoodchannel.com.
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