Local chefs cook, teach and compete in the off-season

October 1, 2013
Now if only I could figure out how to operate a pair of chopsticks without stabbing myself. PHOTOS BY BOB YESBEK

Things are happening around Rehoboth Beach faster than I can write about them! Of course, the events and activities that do end up with a few schmears of ink on this page are the ones to which I am invited. There. I said it.

Stingray’s delightful GM, Andrea Herman, has been telling me for a long time about the Sushi 101 classes presented at the restaurant. It’s no secret that I’m not an expert on the Japanese delicacy, and when I have to write intelligently on the subject, I enlist a few local connoisseurs who are willing to shift their chopsticks into high gear - on my nickel, of course. Last week the stars aligned perfectly and the Earth shuddered slightly on its axis when my schedule and Andrea’s aligned for a brief moment. So I jumped at the chance to attend the popular sushi-making class presided over by none other than Stingray and Mikimoto’s executive sushi chef, Al Chu, ably assisted by his Bad Boys of Sushi. As Cherry Tree Hospitality Group’s head honcho in charge of all things that were recently swimming, Chef Chu has been honored with Best of Delaware awards for the last 13 years in a row.

Chu brings personality, humor and expertise to the subject. His passion for the art (and science!) of steaming, seasoning, slicing, rolling, wrapping and garnishing rice, seaweed and both raw and cooked seafood makes for a spirited and enlightening two-hour class that seems to fly by in 15 minutes. It’s a bargain at $45, and I’m sure the 12 or 15 students went through that much in fresh tuna, avocado, nori, short-grain rice, crab stick and tempura shrimp the Bad Boys kept delivering to the table. The final exam consists of assembling Stingray’s famous Hairy Mexican roll (invented by Chef Chu himself). The spicy results are packed into a box, giving new meaning to the words “take-home test.” The Hairy Mexican, despite its rather unsettling name, has an almost universal appeal, as the contents are fully cooked.

Stingray isn’t the only eatery in Rehoboth Beach that offers off-season culinary education, and I’ll be keeping you informed about other restaurant-based classes. Chef Chu will be convening the sushi-challenged yet again Sundays, Sept. 29, Oct. 27 and Nov. 17. Expand your horizons! Call 302-227-6476 to enroll.

As a fan of Food Network’s “Chopped,” I couldn’t turn down Meals on Wheels Delaware’s invitation to be a judge at the recent chefs’ competition at CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. It was the final heat before the big cook-off at the Celebrity Chefs’ Beach Brunch where the two winners will face off, spatula to spatula, whisk to whisk, to do battle for the high honors. Of course, it’s all in fun, and it all comes down to funding the delivery of hot meals to deserving Delaware seniors. After all, when Andy Feeley (executive chef, Eden), Paul Gallo (executive chef, Abbott’s Grill), Ted Deptula (executive chef, Nage) and Hari Cameron (executive chef and owner, a(MUSE.)) are competing, it’s not like anybody’s going to be that much better than anybody else. These talented guys are pros in the truest sense of the word. It all comes down to what the judges du jour happen to fancy at that moment in time. It was sort of like an abbreviated “Iron Chef America,” but without the cool lights and Alton Brown’s witty repartee.

Judge Terry Kistler (Beach Brunch chair), Judge Andy Staton (judging lottery winner), and I deemed chefs Andy Feely and Ted Deptula to be the winners. Truth be told, it was pretty much a toss-up. The winning toques will brandish their respective skillets at the Rusty Rudder Sunday, Oct. 6, starting at 11 a.m. Visit for tickets. I’ll see you there.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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