SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – When the pandemic shutdown production of The Today Show, Katie Stilo, a culinary producer and food stylist for the NBC series, set out to adapt to a new 'normal.' In an effort to keep busy, Stilo turned her parents South Plainfield, NJ kitchen into a TV studio and, over the months that followed launched a social media platform and online cooking show while also publishing a collaborative cookbook.
"I enjoy being busy and especially enjoying expressing my creativity through food, so when I suddenly had an unforeseen amount of downtime I took it as a positive opportunity to explore a passion project I wouldn't otherwise have been able to," said Stilo.
In March, Stilo (Stilo (@katie.stilo) and fellow culinary producer/food stylist Anthony Contrino (@anthonyissaucy) of Staten Island launched 'Food ADKTs TV' (@food_adkts), an Instagram page designed to bring culinary professionals – and amateur cooks – together, virtually. The site, originally known as the @the_quarantine_collective, currently has over 5,300 followers and, in the past 10 months, has featured hundreds of recipes from over 80 contributors throughout the world.
"Starting the Quarantine Collective allowed me to stay busy while expanding my network of culinary colleagues and learning along the way. A life goal of mine was always to have a cookbook and although ours is digital, it's still amazing to see what a few close friends with a passion can put together in just a few weeks time," said Stilo, adding, "The combined efforts of all of our skill sets proved to be a worthwhile effort as were able to channel that energy for a great cause."
The success of the social media platform led Stilo and Contrino to expand their effort with the release of a digital collaborative cookbook. Aptly titled ‘The_Quarantine_Collective,' the e-book features more than four dozen recipes from chefs across the globe along with ‘tips, tricks, and tools’ to ‘empower home cooks.’ All proceeds from digital downloads, available at www.thequarantinecollective.org, benefit the James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good, a campaign supporting the recover and rebuilding of an independent restaurant industry; to date, over $5,500 and counting has been raised.
Additionally, in October, Stilo and Contrino joined together with fellow culinary producer/food stylist Tina DeGraff (@the_saltgypsy) and chef Dawn Miller (@dinnerbydawn) to launch Kitchen Hits, an original YouTube series. It was at this time that @the_quarantine_collective was rebranded to 'ADKT,' with the social media site and YouTube channel's name a play on the word 'addicts' featuring all four of its founders first initials.
"Pivoting our platform into Food ADKT’s TV is just the beginning of another exciting chapter in my personal career," Stilo said. "Working alongside my talented and passionate friends is just the icing on top."
Kitchen Hits airs on Food ADKT TV (https://bit.ly/3qKybwp), and, each month, the foursome of cooking experts set out to highlight a specific food item and/or ingredient with a focus on tips and tricks to make the perfect dish. The 'hits' in the web series name, said Stilo, stands for 'highlighting ingredients and techniques' to help home cooks make the perfect dish and feel more comfortable in the kitchen.
To date, Kitchen Hits has focused on cabbage, apples, and, most recently, chicken cutlets. In her latest episode, Stilo focuses what has been a 'staple in her home' and delivers techniques for breading cutlets and shallow frying.
“This recipe was a staple in my household growing up for a few reasons: They're super quick to make, require very few ingredients, and they're delicious. There would always be a full plate in our fridge. You can eat them cold - which I still often do, use them in a sandwich, put them in a salad or turn them into chicken parm easily," Stilo said, telling TAPinto that she was 'so happy to see so many people loved this recipe' as much as she does. "My friends have called me the 'cutlet queen' and I'm happy to have earned such a prized nickname. "
A new episode of Kitchen Hits will launch March 2 and the focus will be pancakes. Stilo will teach the technique and importance of leaveners such as baking soda and powder. "I've worked hard to make the perfect pancake recipe and I think I've nailed it. And by work hard I mean I've had to eat a lot of pancakes"
To check out past and upcoming episodes of Kitchen Hits, subscribe to 'Food ADTK TV' on YouTube or visit https://bit.ly/3qKybwp.
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