Katie Liguori is in her third year as an instructor in the Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s culinary arts program, where she teaches baking and pastry-making.

“I’ve never tried teaching before,” she said. “I’ve always loved working with people and it was something I wanted to try. It’s an aspect of cooking I’ve never done, so I decided to give it a try.”

Teaching at the school was practically a homecoming for Liguori. Once a student in the program where she now teaches, she recalls her instructor, Dan Caron, telling her that she’d return. “‘You’re going to come back and teach with me one day,’ he said. Of course, I said, ‘No way!’ But, here I am, and it’s the most rewarding experience ever!”

Even at the age of 8, Liguori knew she was going to be a chef. “I used to cook with grandfather. He’s from New York and Italian, so food is definitely a big thing. I started in the kitchen with him. We did lots of pastries, and they are still my favorite thing to prepare.”

Before teaching at the regional center, Liguori was a head pastry chef on Fishers Island in New York. The job was extremely demanding.

“There was only one country club on the island, with about 500 members. Every night, I had to come up with a regular dessert menu for the restaurant. Then, every Thursday there was a buffet for almost all the members.” Her duties didn’t end there. “There were always special events, like parties or weddings. It’s amazing what I made. I look back and I wonder, how did I do that? I would make 10 different pies or cakes, then four as backup. It was crazy, but I loved it.”

As a culinary arts teacher, Liguori likes to make sure her students get lots of hands-on experience. “You don’t really know what it’s like until you’re in the kitchen and doing it. The biggest challenges are being on your feet all day. There’s usually no air conditioning. It’s hard work, and these students need to learn what it’s really like in the kitchen.”

On the side, Liguori also runs a wedding cake service. “Over the summer, I had up to four cakes a weekend,” she says. “The hard part wasn’t making them, but rather, delivering them. Talk about stress!”

In her free time, Liguori enjoys watching shows on The Food Channel. Her dream is to one day share the screen with some of the big-name chefs, like Emeril and Bobby Flay. “LRTC has a little show on cable access,” she says. “But one day, I’m going to be famous.”

Liguori lives in Auburn with her mother, Kathy Ligouri. She has two cats, Oliver and Eddie, and loves to dance in her free time. Even though she doesn’t have time for formal lessons, she loves getting together with her friend Warren to spend an evening on the dance floor.

Chocolate raspberry swirl cheesecake
Oreo cookie crust Ingredients:
2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs

¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup melted butter
Melt butter in a saucepan. Put Oreo cookies in a food processor and process till in crumbs. Place Oreo crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a 9-inch springform pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Combine together with a spoon, mixture will look crumbly. Press mixture down into pan and 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Bake for eight minutes on 350 degrees. Let cool before adding the filling.
Raspberry puree Ingredients:
1 cup frozen raspberries

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until raspberries are softened and thawed out. Place the mixture in a food processor and puree till smooth. Keep in refrigerator till ready to use.
Filling Ingredients:
4 (8-ounce) blocks of cream cheese, softened

1¾ cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Beat cream cheeses on high speed with electric mixer. Add granulated sugar, and the next four ingredients (down to salt) on medium speed. Beat well, scraping the bowl often. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared Oreo crust. Spoon mounds of raspberry puree over the filling and swirl in with a knife. Wrap aluminum foil around springform pan. Then, place in a large pan, and fill outside pan with water till it goes halfway up the pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cheesecake is almost set. Remove and cool. Cover and chill for at least eight hours.
Chocolate mousse cake
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
8 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a large pan in the oven and pour in a half inch of water. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place aluminum foil around the springform pan and mold it to the sides of the pan, not to the top, to prevent the water from seeping in.

Put 1 inch of water in the bottom of a saucepan and bring water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place chocolate chips and butter in a stainless steel bowl and place over the saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate is complete melted. Set aside to cool until barely warm.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk to break them up. Slowly whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Scrape the batter into the springform pan.

Carefully place the springform pan into the large pan with water in it, into the oven. Bake until it is set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 30 minutes. Carefully, lift the springform pan from the water and let cool on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To serve, remove the springform pan sides, invert the cake onto a serving plate, peel off the parchment paper and decorate.
Pumpkin praline cake
1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup margarine or butter

¼ cup whipping cream (heavy cream)

¾ cup chopped pecans

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin
Whipped cream topping
Combine brown sugar, margarine and whipping cream in a saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Pour into two 9-inch round baking pans, coated lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool.

Stir together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. In a large bowl beat together sugar, oil and eggs. Add pumpkin and the flour mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beating well until combined.

Carefully spoon batter over pecan layer. Place pans on baking sheets. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks for five minutes. Invert onto wire racks, scraping and replacing any pecan mixture. Cool completely.

Place one layer on a plate, praline side up. Spread with half of whipped topping. Place second layer on top, praline side up. Top with whipped topping. Don’t put topping on sides of cake. Chill cake until served.

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