Tricks of the TradeSep 01, 2016 ● By Christine Perrenot
Frisco residents now have the chance to learn all of the tricks of the culinary industry at one of the newest, most advanced cooking facilities in the area. After a class with celebrity chef Tre Wilcox, you will no longer have to rely on Pinterest and good luck to craft a beautiful meal for your dinner guests. Whether you want to design a fun family bonding experience or your work colleagues are looking for a team-building event that does not involve bowling shoes or happy hour, a class at TRE Wilcox Cooking Concepts will provide an educational and memorable experience. Here, guests have the chance to work directly with an award-winning celebrity chef! The talented team is made up of experts who understand the ins and outs of everything in the kitchen. It is their goal to help you become a masterful chef – one who is confident, comfortable and skilled in the kitchen.
Considered a “chef-tainer,” 40-year-old Chef Tre has been a restaurant chef and has even appeared on Bravo and Food Network television shows. TRE Wilcox Cooking Concepts, located in north Plano, offers teambuilding events, private cooking classes, catering and culinary demonstrations. Chef Tre has been an executive chef for 24 years, and during this time, he has helped facilitate teambuilding activities for corporate companies, hosted in-home cooking classes, provided catering across the metroplex and executed pretty much everything TRE Wilcox Cooking Concepts offers now, only remotely. “With all of the companies coming up here, I thought it was time to the take the chance and start the company. It still allows me to have time and not work only restaurant hours,” he shares.
The Frisco STYLE staff had the opportunity to attend one of the unique teambuilding courses at this new culinary destination. After checking out everything in the facility, including the state-of-the-art kitchen prep stations, our staff split into teams and we were off to the races. Large pots and pans, knives, cutting boards and equipment lined the space designed for new chefs to explore their talents and create a flavorful meal. If there is any cooking tool or appliance a chef might need, it can definitely be found in Chef Tre’s kitchen.
A variety of ingredients were provided, including everything from oils and vegetables to meat and seasoning, and each team had about two minutes to choose their ingredients and decide what they were going to prepare with the items. No pressure! There are no parameters or rules when it comes to the creation and combinations in your dish. Some teams featured racks of lamb chops atop a bed of vegetables while others disguised the meat within a colorful heap of rice. Sauces and spices of every kind were within reach to add some zest and kick. A variety of delicious aromas immediately filled the space as teammates ran from one side of the large room to the other, directing each other in order to complete the challenge on time. Before attending a cooking event with Chef Tre, you may not know that someone on your team is as competitive or talented in the kitchen as they actually are. He challenges everyone to push the limits and really learn something that they can incorporate into their daily food preparation methods.
Undoubtedly, you learn more about your teammates as everyone plans, rushes and does everything within their skills to make a dish worthy of being presented to the talented group of judges. It felt like being on the set of a fast-paced reality cooking show!
When the kitchen timer went off (teams got 30 minutes to prepare their food), the plates were presented to the judges as we anxiously awaited their feedback and, most importantly, learned who won the cooking contest! Chef Tre and his team had a scoring sheet and carefully decided which ingredients were combined to make the best-tasting meal.
Chef Tre is easygoing, can adjust to people’s feelings and comfortability and understands that everyone’s tastes and talents are different. His team is adaptable and accommodates clients in a welcoming way so they feel comfortable and have a great, hands-on time learning more about working with different foods in the kitchen. “I love corporate teambuilding. I love working with the companies that have a variety of employees. It is fun to get to know every person in the company. Everything is about your team at the end of the day. We all have different personalities, but we find a way to work together. You get out of your comfort zone and it is something that you can all do together. I also love private parties. I designed a commercial kitchen for me, personally, to be able to execute phenomenal meals for people who come to use the space as a party venue. I am also passionate about teaching,” Chef Tre shares.
Past professional experiences have really helped shape and mold the role Chef Tre now has in the cooking industry. He says he has learned so much about the various types of events and experiences he can offer the community. “The changing of the hat comes from when I was on ‘Top Chef.’ Every day was a different challenge. I can adapt to challenges so quickly. It surprises people that I can pull this off in their kitchen. Being a chef and having high profile people coming in on a day-to-day basis has helped me learn to perform under pressure very well. I understand what a person may think. I have traveled and eaten food all over the world. How will their experience compare? Service is a huge thing,” he says.
Chef Tre’s new business venture provides locals with an experience like they may have never had in the past. He says, “This is not a restaurant. This is something totally different. We have a small staff and there is not as much personality to manage, so I can focus on my guests. I can do so many services under one roof. I do not ever get bored with this business. On a typical day, I might have Kid’s Cooking Camp, then catering, then special events … it keeps life different. Life is what you make it. For business and doing that I love, this provides so many different people and experiences that make me feel alive. I am doing what God wanted me to do. Give back. Leave a legacy. Have fun. Take care of people.”
If you have ever watched a competitive cooking show like “Top Chef” on television, you know how quickly the pressure builds and dishes either win over the tastes of the judges or make them have to do what they do best: judge. Set to the sounds of kitchen knives furiously chopping vegetables and pots and pans clinking as they are pulled off the stove, Chef Tre’s new business provides a lot of that same atmosphere for clients.
When it comes to catering, Chef Tre delivers on taste and can match your style and event theme. This catering crew does not prepare food ahead of time, like many other companies do. They pride themselves on creating inventive culinary concepts right in your home, with only the freshest ingredients. Experts work with clients to prepare a unique and personalized menu, perfect for their upcoming event. Clients never have to pick their food items off a pre-prepared menu. For parties including less than 16 people, Chef Tre’s team can even provide the china. If your party has more attendees than that, the team can help you pick a provider for items like eating utensils and plates. Chef Tre can even make an appearance at your event! With his team managing every culinary detail, your dinner party is sure to be the talk of the town!
“Having an event space like mine is modern and it has the ability to transition very quickly. You can have a cooking class then a three-course meal served by a celebrity chef. There are very few places that offer cooking classes in the Collin County area. Cooking is still something that brings people together – family, business, socially – it is something people gather around,” he shares.
So, what words of advice does Chef Tre have for those of us who may be new to the scene when it comes to cooking? “Be open-minded to eating everything. Eat everything and anything, no matter what it looks like. Every good cook should have an eight-inch knife and paring knife. Take basic knife skills classes. As a cook, you do not want anything to be precut. Be smart and prep your own veggies. Cook your own meat. You gain the ability to push yourself to become a better chef this way. With cooking, you can apply so much if you are willing to do the extra work,” he shares.
Chef Tre knows he was put here for a reason, and he knows he has many people to thank who helped him get where he is today. He is excited to share his talents and help others learn how to be leaders in the kitchen.
Now, it is time to make a reservation at one of the hottest new destinations in town and get behind the scenes! Be sure to check out the online calendar listing various upcoming events, like couples’ classes ($175), hands-on classes ($80) and guest chef cooking classes ($75). To learn more about Chef Tre or to sign up for an upcoming class, consider visiting trewilcox.com.