Food University Charter Class!!

I spent this past weekend in Chicago as part of a production callded Food University produced by Richard Gore, president and founder of Culinary Entertainment Group. The event is held at the Wyndham hotels, and the concept is a great one. Richard has organized four celebrity chefs to teach very basic cooking skills to home cooks during a weekend. Mary Ann Esposito is the Italian chef, Sara Moulton is the American chef, Martin Yan is the Asian chef, and yours truly is the Latin chef. From the minute I heard this idea, I was sold. The idea of spending the weekend with rotating classes of home cooks, and then sharing a meal together, sounded like something right up my alley. Audience participation, hands on action, instant feedback….sign me up!Culinary Director Alle Thomas had everything well under control, and the morning of the event, everything went according to plan, with the exception that our classes ran a bit over. For my part, I was just eager to meet my first class, and get things going. There was a lot to cover in an hour.

Culinary Director Alle Thomas and Daisy

My class consisted of teaching a very basic technique for mastering white rice, then using those techniques to make variations of yellow rice. In today’s case, Arroz con Chorizo. The class was astounded that every single person made a perfect pot of white rice, which would be saved for Martin Yan’s class the following day.

We went from white rice, right into the making of sofrito, achiote oil, and the chorizo, filling the classroom up with aromas that these students had never experienced before. If I heard “This smells unbelievable!!” one more time, I was going to plotz!

Sofrito

Arroz con Chorizo

It really was a great expereince for me as well as the students. Everyone oohed and ahhed, and they were given containers to take their arroz con chorizo home, or at least store it away.

That evening we had a dinner, showcasing a meal that was inspired by the food of the Food U instructors. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, and make quite a few new ones. In addition, Paul Lally, the director of Ciao Italia! was on hand to tape the classes. He is making a documentary style series for PBS depicting the Food University event. Rumour has it that we are going to tape that at the Wyndham in Manzanillo, Mexico. Talk about serendipity!

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