Ann Delisi's Essential Cooking-logo

Ann Delisi's Essential Cooking

Food & Cooking Podcasts

How to sharpen your knives, what drinks to serve, where your seafood comes from – WDET's Ann Delisi and James Beard-nominated Chef James Rigato are here to empower you in the kitchen and have some fun along the way. Through interviews with chefs and industry experts, Essential Cooking is a key ingredient in your culinary journey.


Detroit, MI


How to sharpen your knives, what drinks to serve, where your seafood comes from – WDET's Ann Delisi and James Beard-nominated Chef James Rigato are here to empower you in the kitchen and have some fun along the way. Through interviews with chefs and industry experts, Essential Cooking is a key ingredient in your culinary journey.




The Family Business and Delicious Tradition of Fairway Packing Co.

Ann and James sit down with cousins Emmet and Gino Baratta from Fairway Packing for a conversation about their family business located in Southeast Michigan. They talk about how relationships with chefs are vital to their success, and they discuss the quality focused mindset that began with the generations before them. Tune in to learn what goes into producing and supplying quality meats, from farm to to delivery truck. And get your notepad out, because they're going to teach you a thing or two about how to perfectly prepare that nice steak you just bought.


Travel Italy Like a Chef

How would a Chef approach traveling to a country renowned for its culinary excellence? In this episode, Ann sits down with her co-host, Chef James Rigatto, to discuss his recent adventures in Italy—a country that holds food in the highest regard. James shares his practical strategies for planning his trips, including booking flights, indulging in local cuisine and drinks, and finding balance after a week of indulgent dining. Get ready to be inspired as James reveals his secrets for maximizing his culinary journeys in Italy.


Pastries Without Borders with Warda Bouguettaya

Warda Bouguettaya is the visionary chef behind Warda Patisserie in Midtown Detroit. Warda has achieved remarkable success in the culinary world, being named one of Food and Wine's Best Chefs in America in 2022 and receiving the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Warda’s creations are a fusion of Algerian heritage, French flair, and Chinese influences. She talks with Ann Delisi and James Rigato about her path to Detroit, the enduring influence of her mother's cooking, and the thrill of being nationally recognized and celebrated for her delectable pastries.


The Many Shades of Veganism

Sadie Quagliotto of Hip in Detroit, and Vegan pro-artist Jessica Hayes join Ann and James to break down what it means to be vegan. They tackle the subjects of "animal product free" food, lifestyle, and makeup. Learn where to get a great vegan meal in the Detroit region, and how to know if your makeup is truly vegan.


What the Halal to Eat in Dearborn, Michigan with Fred Sareini

Dearborn, Michigan is known for its fantastic food scene that boasts cuisine from around the Arab World. Fred Sareini is a hands-on expert on Dearborn's food. His day job as a clay sculptor for Ford Motor Company also plays very nicely into his reverse engineering mindset for food. Listen to hear about some of Fred’s favorite Halal destinations in the Arab American capital of the United States.


Chef John Vermiglio’s Path from Charlie Trotter’s to Detroit

John Vermiglio is the chef behind Detroit restaurants Grey Ghost, 2nd Best, and Basan, but his career kicked off in Chicago under the direction of the highly influential and infamous chef, Charlie Trotter. In this episode, John dives into what it was like to work with the legendary chef and how those experiences shaped his approach to opening his Detroit dining destinations.


Discover the Food of the Italian Islands with Katie Parla

In her latest book, the New York Times bestselling cookbook author and Emmy nominated TV host, Katie Parla, breaks down what makes each Italian Island’s cuisine unique and delicious! In this episode, she joins Ann and James to discuss her writing, the Italian emphasis on digestion, life as an American living abroad, and where to find her favorite dishes. Buon appetito!


Demystifying Champagne with Paulina Schemanski

Take a deep dive into everything champagne with Paulina Schemanski, sommolier at Mabel Gray. She tells Ann and James all about what makes champagne... champagne, and how to best enjoy the misunderstood and underappreciated beverage. (Hint, you don't have to be at a wedding or New Year's party to enjoy!)


Hamissi Mamba’s Culinary Journey from Burundi to Detroit

Hamissi Mamba, restaurant owner and recent winner of The Food Network’s “Chopped”, talks to Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato about his inspiring life journey from Burundi to Detroit. He speaks of how he and his wife Nadia Nijimbere overcame the odds to start a family and a thriving business in an unfamiliar culture.


Setting the Table for Season 3

Long time, no see! Ann and James take a moment to catch up with each other and set the table for the third season of Essential Cooking. They talk about exploring food through travel, their businesses, and highlight what’s to come for the podcast in the year ahead.


Planting a Food Forest with Samantha Stanisz

You can replace your lawn with a food forest. Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato talk with Samantha Stanisz about the food forest she planted. They talk about the benefits of replacing your lawn with food and how to prepare for next year's growing season in the winter.


How to Prepare a Vegan-friendly Thanksgiving

Chef James Rigato talks with Ann Delisi about some of his favorite vegan dishes to prepare for Thanksgiving.


CuriosiD: Who Made Detroit-style Pizza First?

What are the origins of Detroit-style pizza? Who is your favorite? Listen to this episode from the CuriosiD podcast to find out. Have a question about the Detroit region or the people who live here? Anything you’ve always wondered about, found strange or downright confusing? You ask the questions and WDET helps you find answers.


Chef Javier Bardauil on bringing a wood-fired Argentinian culinary experience to Detroit and learning from Francis Mallmann

Chef Javier Bardauil joins Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato to talk about his Core City restaurant Barda, which is known for its wood-fired cooking and Argentinian menu. He also talks about learning from world-renowned chef Francis Mallmann, and about his journey to Detroit.


What's Wrong With Food Media, with Chef Andrew Carmellini

Chef Andrew Carmellini, a two-time James Beard Foundation awardee talks with Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato about how the rise in media attention surrounding Chefs has changed the industry, and how the work has changed in his thirty years in the industry. (Note: this episode contains explicit language.)


Accessing Michigan’s Agricultural Diversity With Abby Olitzky

Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato talk with Abby Olitzky, operator of Spencer, a wine shop and restaurant in Ann Arbor. discussing engaging with the farming communities in Michigan, sourcing fresh produce year-round and more.


Chef Phil Jones on Doing Good with Good Food

Detroit Chef Phil Jones joins Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato to talk about what drives him to provide Detroiters with affordable, locally-sourced, plant-based foods. Jones is a member of Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good, and the co-creator of Farmacy Foods.


James Travels to Tokyo

Chef James Rigato tells Ann Delisi all about his recent trip to Japan, and why the timeless and futuristic food culture there left him feeling inspired.


State Sen. Mallory McMorrow on the Restaurant Industry and Pandemic Shutdowns

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow joins Ann Delisi and James Rigato to talk about how COVID-19 forced the state government and restaurant industry to work together. Plus, how the health of the Great Lakes region’s lakes and rivers affect food producers and restaurants.


Third Culture is a Creative Superpower for Jon Kung

Jon Kung, a Detroit chef, has exploded in popularity with his TikTok cooking lessons. Kung joins Ann Delisi to talk about third culture food and the success he’s found in recent years. You can follow him on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube @chefjonkung.