Local chef Andreann Geise shares some favorite recipes as she gears up to compete in the 2019 World Food Championships
Years ago in New Jersey, a little girl unearthed a culinary gem while eating breakfast. Andreann Geise, now a Socastee resident, discovered love is the necessary ingredient in every memorable meal.
“My dad’s eggs were technically perfect, but what put his eggs over the top was love,” she said. “He had lots of love in everything he cooked, and my mom did the same.”
After a half-century of life, it is no wonder why Geise—a certified personal trainer who can leg press more than 1,100 pounds, former veterinarian and past adjunct professor, among other things—has solidly settled in on her passion of gastronomic pursuits.
She is now a bona fide chef who will take her talents to Dallas October 16–20 to compete in the eighth annual World Food Championships. This, however, isn’t her first time competing against cooking greats from around the globe. Battle blood has long been flowing through her body.
Peep this. Back in 2009, she took Food Network judges’ taste buds hostage with her Tongue Tantalizing Barbecue Pork and became the Hometown Favorites Winner as a contestant of the Ultimate Recipe Showdown 2. Her bulky sandwich, made with an original sauce featuring dark beer and brown sugar, also earned her $10,000.
Yet, that was then, and this is now. She has since won various cooking competitions, cooked with lots of celebrity chefs, became a go-to food judge and soaked her epicurean feet in numerous other ponds. Of course, love is at the forefront of everything each time Geise makes a splash. She believes you simply can’t cook without it.
“I think your intentions, when you are cooking, matters,” said Geise, who also testifies to cooking’s strength in calming her nerves and providing her an avenue of escape away from life’s pressures. “I am a nurturer by birth, and my emotions are in my food, as well as in the tastes.”
The aforementioned was stated while she sat upon her kitchen stool. Her hair was pulled back in a meticulous ponytail, dewy makeup was upon her face and Cover Girl Rum Raisin graced her lips.
Culinary gadgets were in plain sight, as well as Whirlpool appliances that added finesse and edge to space where every meal is extraordinary.
“In the kitchen, she’s a beast,” said Stephen Cassarino, a celebrity cook also known as Chef Roc and Geise’s friend. “That’s a good thing. She is organized and has food smarts.”
Geise understands food’s multiple personalities. She intimately connects to how food plays dominant roles in our lives—it is not only sustenance but it also alters our moods and changes our perspectives. Beloved foods like hearty bowls of soup and crispy fried chicken can buoy us from bad feelings. Geise is a cooking queen, ruling palates by using her know-how and innate gifts to reign over foodies.
“Her style of cooking is unique and is out of the box,’’ said Tom Mullally, a chef instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College who met Geise years ago while judging food competitions with her. “She’s motivated and constantly comes up with new culinary ideas.”
There will be more than 1,500 chefs at the international Dallas contest competing in 10 categories: bacon, barbecue, burger, chef, chili, dessert, sandwich, seafood, steak and recipe. Geise will compete against at least 40 people in the sandwich category, but she is mum on which sandwich she will make.
What is not a secret is the fact that she uses a kaleidoscope of ingredients when preparing food. She’ll let a bone-in Boston butt rub its behind with Hungarian paprika, ground cinnamon, Tabasco, pineapple and other cuisine compadres. If she meets a cherrystone clam, Geise will let it stay on a half shell. However, to give it some sass and boost its flavor profile, she’ll let it cozy up to yellow onions, grated Parmesan, garlic, butter, bacon and maraschino cherries. Those good fellows, along with additional components, comprise her beloved Maraschino Clams on a Half Shell.
Her husband of 32 years, Rick Geise, is a huge fan of her maraschino clams, although, initially, he thought the mollusk concept was peculiar. Yet, the machinist who is also a toolmaker similarly enjoys his wife’s traditional dishes like prime rib, stuffed pork chops and pan-seared fish. They, too, however, have all the makings of his wife’s feisty focus on food seasoned thoroughly with love.
“She brought the foodie out of me,” he said. “She cooks my favorite meals exactly like I like them.”
When she makes the trip to Dallas, he will be in tow too because he is also competing. His category? Chili.
“My husband hasn’t ever competed in a live competition before,’’ she said. “But he does cook incredibly well, although he kept his cooking skills a secret for the first 10 years of our marriage.”
If successful, they could win $10,000 in their respective categories. The overall grand champion will win $100,000 in the final showdown against other category winners. Participants have a chance to win more than $350,000 in cash and prizes, which is the largest payout in food sports history, according to the World Food Championships. Each chef earned a spot in the competition by winning a qualifying contest or publication award or receiving a special invitation.
Geise won Gotham Steel’s competition and its fire and earth cookware to clinch her place in Dallas. This is her fourth time at the World Food Championships. Her best finish was 5th place in 2016 when she won in the bacon category with her Bacon, Shrimp & Tomato Salad on Garlic Bacon Toast.
“It has been two years since I’ve had her food, but I can testify that it was delicious,’’ said Adam Kirby, an owner of Rustic Table and Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island. “I think she will bring home the gold.”
Taking over taste buds is always one of Geise’s primary objectives. Like Uncle Sam, she isn’t shy about telling individuals exactly what she wants from them and how she plans to get it. The major difference is that the government wants military muscle, and Geise’s intent is to satisfy mouths one bite at a time.
“I try to touch different parts of your tongue because it has different taste buds, and I want all those taste buds to be touched,’’ she said.
Her fierce concentration on conquering every foodie with her flavors came from her late parents, Clyde and Maria Oster. She learned the fundamentals of cooking from them, not a culinary institute. Her dad was a World War II veteran, and her mom was a native of Greece who taught her the power of incorporating healing herbs into food. They both strongly influenced their daughter’s desire to explore and conquer gastronomic realms in otherworldly ways.
“They had a hot dog truck and then after that a restaurant on a golf course, as well as a stand that had sandwiches and hot dogs,’’ Geise said. “It was a 36-hole golf course so the restaurant was on one side, and the stand was on the other (in Wayne, N.J.).”
Her parents made sure the food, even the condiments, were not only fresh but also made from scratch. Of course, their preparation required more time, but she saw early on that the dedication was worth the effort. She soon replicated the same dishes they created before conceiving unique fare of her own.
“She has this swagger that says, ‘I got this,’ but she will always do so with a sense of humor,’’ Cassarino said. “Andreann is really creative in her approach to putting together a recipe.”
He thinks her chicken Parmesan is “to die for.”
Kirby, a gifted executive chef in his own right, thoroughly enjoyed her Fish Gyro with Black-Eyed Pea Tabouli when they appeared on television together. Mullally, also an executive chef and owner of Strand Catering, gave Geise high marks for her moussaka.
In a nutshell, Geise’s chef contemporaries admire her abilities and think she can come back from Dallas as a victor. Her resume gives their hypothesis validity. After all, award-winning actress Claire Danes, Food Network megastar Guy Fieri and baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. are among the hifalutin folks that have enjoyed Geise’s food.
“I feel she that she is in the culinary zone,” Mullally said. “She is organized, knows flavor combinations, and has a willingness to win.’”
If she does succeed in Dallas, and she believes she can, Geise knows affection will be the key to toppling her rivals.
“The love and passion I put into food is my own,’’ she said. “It cannot be duplicated because it’s from me. Love, caring and healing are not only found in ingredients. They are in my heart and hands, as I give my all.”
Love’s Winning Recipes
On a steamy Saturday afternoon, in the cool of her kitchen, Andreann Geise prepared her Maraschino Clams on a Half Shell and Greek Mega Sliders topped with Greek Arugula Salad.
The clams were savory with a hint of sweetness, while the sliders, made with beef and lamb, were juicy and addictive. She flavored the mini fat burgers with gourmet sea salt infused with lime peel, peppercorns and coriander, while the zesty arugula salad had citrus notes that accented the freshness of her homemade yeast buns on which they were served.
Andreann shared her recipes with us, and now we are sharing them with readers. Enjoy!