Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Iron Chef Jenn

Dancing up a storm the night before brought some aches and pains in my early morning rise. I sleepily drove out to Orange County – always a pleasurable experience… NOT. I headed out to the Grand California Hotel – one of my faves, I’ve stayed there before and just love the old school, Yosemitesque ambiance. ;)

A few weeks ago and thanks to a Disney e-newletter, I found out about a cooking class in one the premier restaurant at Disney resort and in Orange County, the Napa Rose. What a dream come true for a foodie like me! There was an executive chef (Chef Jeff) and two sous chefs (Chef Francisco “Frank” and Chef Richard) that ran the class. The first thing they taught us is how to properly address them.

“Is that understood?” asked Chef Jeff.

“Yeah,” we mumbled.

“WHAT??!!” he barked!!

“YES Chef!!” the group shouted in unison.

(Oh man, this is gonna be good……)

We made and ate the following: Lobster Martinis, Braised Short Rib with Corn & Potatoe coulis and a sugar cookie crusted-crème-brulee with marinated Raspberries and Passion Fruit sauce. The wine pairings at lunch were impeccable!! Coffee and (most of the) company divine.

Here is a list of cooking tips I personally learned from the class. Some of this you may already know, but a novice like me… well.. it was good stuff:

 It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly before cooking. When you do, sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself, this will ensure the minimum of 20-30 seconds your hands should be scrubbing together.

 When salting, salt from above and use sea or kosher salt. (Salt to close to the meat and it will turn out spotty.)

 I am converting my oil into the 90-10 ratio used at most restaurants: 90% Canola; 10% Olive oil.. the “flash” or burn point is much higher than with pure olive oil.

 When you reduce using wine, it will clean also clean your pans. Nice!

 Speaking of pans, all the pans at the Napa Rose were All-Clad and they were super heavy. When tossing veggies, I had to do a two-hander toss. Consequently, I bought an All-Clad 8 qt sauce man that same afternoon to celebrate my first cooking class. It was on sale at $179 from $310. As I held it in my hand and debated, I thought about it for minute then said, “Fuck it, I deserve it!” and when you taste the soup I will make from it you’ll say it too!!

 Hand-held torches are awesome!! Can’t wait to buy my own!

 Chefs work at least a 12-15 hour day. No can do for me. I love to cook – 4 hrs tops.

 On knives, choose one that feels comfortable in your hand, don’t worry about name brands or price. Sorry, but since my trips to Germany, Henkel will always be my knife maker of choice… both in cooking and in blind rage. ;)

 All-Clad pan, $179; Napa Rose cooking Class $289; Having an Disney Executive Chef personally have a one-on-one 10 minute session just with you and how to handle a knife: PRICELESS.

 Chefs are… kinda sexy. (Did I say that outloud?)

Click here for the complete set of pictures of Napa Rose Cooking Class


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