What a wild couple of days! This past Thursday, I was invited to visit the Southern Season Cooking School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to give a cooking class to a group of about 50 or so. I have never visited Chapel Hill, and I had heard so much about it (thank you Jay Perlow, for insisting I visit Crooks Corner Restaurant…more on that later!), that I was looking forward to the visit with much anticipation.
I was greeted my the coordinator of the school, Marilyn, and her lovely husband, Jim, who gave me tour of the gorgeous gourmet store that is attached to the school itself. Think Citarella meets Sur La Table! The store is absoultely beautiful , with case after case of deliciously displayed charcuterie, prepared dishes, cold stations, flowers, housewares and even wine!
We toured the site of the school which is a very lovely space, with three large flat screen monitors that capture all the action happening on the cooktops and on the long counter that faces the audience.
A quick once over with the crew of Kitchen Ninjas that Marilyn had assembled for me, more than assured me that this was going to go quite smoothly.
The audeince was completely engrossed in the class, asked very relevant questions, and prepared to weigh in on the culinary attributes of the fare. They were not disappointed!
We whipped up and made short course of tostones and guacamole and proceeded on to the main course of the evening, Abuela’s Pork Chops, and Arroz con Gandules.
Aside from the fact that The Southern Season School managed to get every single one of the ingredients from the shelves of their own shop, the Ninjas were cracker jack efficient! It was like working in an Operating Room! No sooner would I open my mouth to ask for something than it would be in my hand! Those folks can rock the heck out of a kitchen!
Dessert was simple fare: a Coconut Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis, which was light and refreshing without being too sweet.
Afterwards, I was allowed to “visit” with the students and sign their books, before they left for the evening. I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable evenings that I have spent in a long, long time! I was certainly the happy recipient of some real Southern hospitality.
The only sad part about this trip was that it was way too short! I will make it a point to come back and visit the fine city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina much more thouroughly, the next time around. Hopefully, the Southern Season Cooking School will make a little room for me again, on my next visit!