"Thank you for helping to put on the nicest party I've ever had. I just felt the extra touches and care taken by you were exceptional. The food was out of this world... all of it so fresh and beautiful and delicious."
Synopsis of a cooking class
When you arrive you don your apron (yours to keep) wash your hands, help yourself to water, tea or coffee and take a seat at the kitchen counter. After a brief introduction we begin discussing the recipes for the class. You will learn how and where to shop and select all the ingredients and learn the key techniques which make the dish a success.
What makes the dish a success is a combination of many factors. The skill of the cook, timing, technique, seasoning and presentation. My teacher referred to this as the three "P's"-purchasing, preparation and presentation. Paying attention to these critical details will help insure your culinary success.
The menu is divided into 3 or 4 parts depending on the number of students. The maximum number of students in a class is 9. The small classes allow the teacher to give adequate attention to the participants so they are successful in cooking their recipes. The class separates into groups of two-three to prepare their recipes.
The mise en place* for each recipe is set on a tray. You read your recipe check your "mise" and begin preparing your recipe. There is a time schedule for each recipe to help keep you on time. Julie and her assistant are near by to help out. As each course is ready the dishes are plated, presented at the table and paired with wine. Most of our wine is from Napa Valley or California as it pairs best with the food we cook.
We will serve the first glass of wine when most of the knife work is out of the way. It is usually served with a small light bite that Julie found during her shopping for the class. It could be local artesian cheese, fresh almonds or a special heirloom vegetable or fruit.
We dine in the dining room or outside (weather permitting). The table is set with fresh flowers, linen napkins, silver and crystal. After the meal we have a quick recap of the techniques and you are off to your next wine country stop. The class lasts about four hours all in all depending on the speed of the students, questions and etc.
*Mise in place is a French phrase meaning "everything in place". It refers to the ingredients, and other components you require to prepare your recipe. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens or grills are preheated.