Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cooking Up Some Fun in Savannah

Every traveler knows that one of the joys of visiting a different city is savoring the local cuisine. The REAL foodies among you may want to take that love of travel and food one step further by enrolling in a cooking class taught by a local chef. While Madame Owner was recently visiting The Food Maven in Savannah, they did just that. It was the highlight of the week.

The Food Maven in her element!
Chef Darin Sehnert teaches at the Mansion on Foryth Park's 700 Cooking School. The Housewife and The Food Maven took his Stewing and Braising class in which that most illustrious dish of all dishes (okay, French beef stew) Boeuf bourguignon, with celery root mashed potatoes, and braised leeks were on the schedule. The chef covered some essential kitchen basics such as proper use of a knife as well as how to select a good one, some culinary definitions, and a little kitchen science. There's a reason you salt the food when cooking instead of at the table! Participation is encouraged and Chef Darin handles the session with a delightful combination of expertise and humor. Since you are more likely to learn and retain more information when you are relaxed and having fun, it is a great teaching combo. Who knew we were all cutting onions wrong all these years?   

Their class was comprised of 8 students and the facilities were posh yet comfortable. You will enjoy this class whether you are a diehard foodie like the Food Maven, a sometimes foodie, like Madame Owner, or just someone who loves food but has no idea how it magically ends up on your plate. You'll want to spend a little time wondering around if you attend. The chocolate brown, orange, and leopard print decor made The Housewife and The Food Maven's mouths water long before they got to the kitchen. 

Chef Darin is amiable and tolerant. He wasn't even put off by My Owner and her friend taking frequent pictures and cracking jokes. They did however refrain from speaking in their Julia Child voices during the class, something they had planned on beforehand. (This dish is practically synonymous with the Grand Dame of cooking) After all the cutting and chopping, while the stew was being made the chef called Madame Housewife over to do the flambe. She held the pan while the chef poured in the brandy and lit it creating a surprising amount of heat and flame. She'd been expecting a small flame within the pan, so it was a bit of a shock, as was the fact that the Food Maven didn't get a photo. Never fear. The Food Maven (and friend extraordinaire) asked Chef Darin if MO could do it again so she could document the moment.  He agreed and the scene was repeated. 

There is something delicious about a man who lets you play with fire in his kitchen!

 Madame Housewife may not try this at home, but if you are so inclined, here's the how-to: Cooking/ How to Flambe.

After the meal was finished, the wine was poured and the posse of "chefs" sat down together to dine. Friendly chatter surrounded the table until the first bit was taken. 

Madame Housewife and the chef
It took a few minutes for everyone to recover from the culinary nirvana they had entered. There is something social about preparing a meal together and at least for a few moments this little band of cuisine minded travelers shared something nearly familial: the ecstasy of creating and enjoying scrumptiously divine dishes. 

grapefruit granita and shortbread cookies
Dessert featured a clean and light grapefruit granita with home made shortbread cookies. The perfect citrusy foil for the heavy meal. 

Traveling to Savannah and want to cook with Chef Darin? Here's the info:

The Mansion Cooking School Programs

                                                                        Bon Appetit, Y'all!
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