Impress your dinner guests: Go back to school!
Just when you think it’s safe to go back into the pool, up pops that Rehoboth Foodie guy. Wherever there’s a camera, a microphone or a piece of bacon, you know he’ll be nearby. This time he was cluttering up the airwaves on the brand-new WXDE, the news/talk station at 105.9 FM. He was a guest on Susan Monday’s Saturday afternoon “Sip & Bite,” rattling on about how resort restaurants supplement their income during the winter months. Against my better judgment, I listened. Even more to my annoyance, I actually learned something.
There are many reasons for restaurants to keep the lights on during the winter months. Some will operate at break-even or a loss just to keep their valued chefs, managers and staff working. The upside is that they hit the ground running (food- and service-wise) when the beach season returns.
Local eateries are discovering that there are ways to draw customers through the front doors other than just for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Influenced by Food Network, Cooking Channel and the like, more and more people are taking an interest in upscale home cooking. Clever chefs and restaurants are responding with cooking classes geared toward the average cook with slightly more than basic culinary talents.
Stingray’s executive sushi chef Al Chu (and his bad boys of sushi) have put together an appetizing curriculum they call Sushi 101. For $45 you learn the age-old rolling techniques - and everybody gets to eat their final exam. Sushi 101 convenes Sunday, Feb. 10, at noon. You can buy tickets at www.StingrayRestaurant.com.
Chef Kevin Reading has certainly made his mark on Rehoboth-area dining, and lucky participants can learn from the master at Abbott’s Grill in Milford. Just last week he revealed some of his secrets for cooking shellfish; not to worry, however - Abbott’s Grill holds regularly scheduled sessions on everything from basic sauces to the art of making mozzarella. Get class schedules and tuition information from Karen at 302-491-6736.
Both Catch 54 in Fenwick and Northeast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View are known for their free classes. Topics range from low-calorie, healthy food choices to lobster preparation techniques to the traditional cuisine of Rhode Island. There is usually a little happy hour (cash bar, of course) just before the one-hour class convenes, and you always get to eat your homework.
Are you still trying to figure out that strange thingamajig with razor-sharp blades (and instructions in French) that Cousin Murlene gave you for Christmas? Not to worry! Molecular gastronome (and all-around nice guy) Hari Cameron will happily tell you exactly what you can do with it during his Cooking With Gadgets class Saturday, Jan. 26, at Baltimore Avenue’s a(MUSE.). (Hari says to bring the contraption - and a Band-Aid - with you.) His most recent class, Soups, Stocks & Sauces: The Fundamentals of Great Cooking, was a huge success. Register at www.amuse-rehoboth.com (click menus, cooking classes).
One thing that Kevin Reading and Hari Cameron have in common is the deliciously upscale Nage in Shore Plaza. Though they have both moved on, Nage continues to turn out great meals to happy customers. You can learn how they do that by enrolling in popular cooking classes such as The Bread Class taught by the Bread Whisperer himself, Keith Irwin, and the recent Holiday Party Class taught by event coordinator and public relations diva Chrissy Sarro. Details may be had at www.nagerestaurant.com.
Big Fish Grill offers an extensive syllabus of three-hour cooking classes for $75 per person. Classes are scheduled biweekly from January through April, with a final meeting in early May (details at www.BigFishGrill.com). Last year, one of the classes focused on the pairing of food with California wines. Live entertainment was provided by jazz guitarist Paul Cullen. The featured wines? Paul Cullen Wines, of course. Everybody cooked, sipped, listened, sipped some more and graduated with honors.
So dust off your loose-leaf notebook, sharpen your Ticonderoga No. 2 (and your favorite meat cleaver) and pick up some pro techniques from your favorite chef before he or she goes back into hiding for the summer.