Our new guest teacher Tylesia “Tye” Lewis provides cooking lessons and classes all over the Austin Metro area through her business, Tye Cooks Austin. Tye’s classes focus on creating ethnic-inspired meals using budget-friendly pantry staples. She also works with individuals who are following or transitioning to specialized diets like gluten-free, soy-free and vegetarian. Tye's classes are full of hints, tips and above all fun! During her spare time, you can find Tye walking her dog, teaching youth, volunteering, and creating or sampling new dishes.
In 2015 Tye received Honorable Mention for her desserts in the Turkish Cooking Olympia, and she is a featured presenter at the 2016 and 2017 Gluten Free Allergy Free Fest and the host the annual Valentine's Dinner - Love Yourself; Love Your Food Valentine’s Event. We recently chatted with Tye about her experience with cooking and her advice for budget-conscious cooks.
How did you get started cooking?
I started cooking when I was in primary school. My mother was a stay at home mom until my 3rd or 4th-grade year and when she returned to work my brother and I began cooking because we did not want our dad to cook dinner.
Do you have a favorite food memory or tradition?
One of my favorite food memories was eating a green tea waffle which had walnuts with green tea ice cream in Seoul, South Korea with one of my good friends. We would plan a day and time to meet up at one of the 3 venues in the city which made the dessert. We would order coffee, split the waffle and just talk for hours. It made me view eating as more than just fueling my body but also recharging my soul.
What are your favorite things to cook/eat?
I do not have one favorite thing to eat anymore but I do enjoy having steamed white rice with a pat of salted butter with most every evening meal. When I was younger, I would love to eat Cream of Wheat made with milk and sugar however since I have adopted a gluten-free diet rice has become my go to food.
Have you always been an adventuresome cook/eater?
Yes, I have always been an adventuresome cook, but not eater. I enjoy using a spice or food which is new to me and create delicious dishes. When I lived aboard in Asia I did consider and try unfamiliar foods.
What’s your advice for someone wanting to try new cuisines that they maybe didn’t grow up eating?
When you make the decision to try a new cuisine I recommend selecting a continent first and then just pick a random nation in which a traditional dish you would like to try. If this method seems too daunting, try a local mom and pop restaurant. Go in and talk with the owners/cook. Have them select a meal they eat (often it is not on the menu). But above all keep an open mind; if you like it note it if not try something else. It is about the full experience, not just the food.
When and why did you get interested in cooking for special diets, like gluten-free?
I became interested in special diets during college when I suddenly became allergic to multiple foods. I began then to actively find other foods so I did not feel limited. Within the last five years, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and it was not a choice to relearn how to cook without gluten containing foods. Additionally, close friends and family have foods (i.e. soy, sugar, nuts, dairy, and corn) in which they had to eliminate from their diets for a variety of reasons. I began to give them ideas then create meals which they could eat as a family since eating is a crucial part of family/friend bonding.
Do you have any tips for budget-conscious home cooks who want to try new things?
1. Spices are expensive and purchasing a whole container when you only need a teaspoon or two it is wise to get all your spices from the bulk section in most grocery stores. So instead of buying the Hungarian Smoked Paprika for $4.00 and have it sit in your pantry without being used again, you purchase one - two tablespoons for less than a dollar.
2. Avoid canned and opted for fresh or frozen. Frozen vegetables, fruits, and meats can be frozen for months; they have all of the nutrients without any of the added salt or preservatives.
3. Visit the bulk section. You can try a little before making a commitment to a large portion and money.