How many chances does one get to cook in a kitchen as fabulous as the one at Culinary Institute of America? In my case…so far only one. It was memorable to say the least, however, and I very much plan to schedule another visit and cooking class at CIA Greystone in Napa, California.
Microsoft’s Bing had invited me to the event and provided the ticket to both the lunch that afternoon and a fantastic Winemakers dinner that evening. Thanks again to the staff at Bing for being a sponsor at an iconic event in the Napa Valley.
The Interactive Lunch with Todd English was part of the Flavor Napa Series which is held annually and very well attended by guests from around the world. At the winemakers dinner that evening, we met a lovely couple from Portugal who had booked the three day event to truly taste the Napa Valley and experience the culture.
The interactive lunch starts with a cooking demonstration by Chef English in the Classrooms which of course features a state of the art kitchen at the helm as opposed to the standard teachers writing desk. Awesome.
The CIA at Greystone offers the same degree proven programs, innovative curriculum, and expert CIA faculty as their world-renowned culinary and baking and pastry arts programs in Hyde Park, NY. Whatever your interest in coming to Greystone—from dining to demonstrations, from professional programs to enthusiast courses such as this one, they most likely have something for any foodie.
We were taught how to make pan seared scallops and a duck pasta dish. For the second half of the lesson, the “interactive” part, the students were taken upstairs to the CIA Greystone kitchens. These are not like the stoves that I have in my home.
They are impressive and I mean really impressive. For a kluzt such as myself….it was a bit daunting to say the least. I am not fond of setting fires…haha. Nor did I luckily.
I found the class helpful, the chef came around and assisted the students as they created the dish themselves as well, giving us pep talks and words of encouragement when needed.
As I seared my scallops in oil to start the dish, Chef Todd English came by and said something to the extent of “You look like you know what you are doing in the kitchen.”… Sure Chef…I bet he says that to all the ladies…ha.
This demonstration class and experience cooking at the Culinary Institute was terrific. And we didn’t do so bad either. I had gotten the tickets last minute but luckily Aaron, was in town visiting, and he came with me and was my designate for the day, he does not drink. More sips of Napa’s finest for me then.
Props again to Bing for providing an apron for guests as well as creating a computer application which we were provided with on tablets at the cooking preparation area. Each prep area had a tray laid out with ingredients all pre-measured and a step by step recipe on the tablet to follow.
This recipe included photos and was easy to follow instructions. Scallops are usually something I would order out and not prepare at home. After this class, I have changed my mind, what an easy and also impressive dish to create.
Another nice feature from the Bing recipe app was the hands free usage. Any home chef knows that hands are constantly messy with something and the ability to swipe the screen by moving your hand above the screen without touching anything was invaluable.
We ate our personal scallop dish with a beautifully paired white wine and the duck pasta was served family style to the tables throughout the kitchen area. We dined amongst the kitchen and sounds and smells wafting from the stoves. Wonderful and what a fantabulous building it was.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ken Wagonner, another Twitter acquaintance and fellow wine lover, while eating dessert at the event. Turns out that we live in the same neighborhood and we have been friends since. Him and his lovely wife are terrific and I have attended several local events with them since Flavor Napa.
We also dined next to a group of couples visiting from Southern California who attend Flavor Napa as a group each year and say that some of their favorites were the brunch on the final day of Flavor Napa and also the winemakers dinner on the last night. We had the pleasure of seeing them at the Winemaker dinner that evening and raising a glass together again.
Aaron and I, who also had attended the class earlier that evening, were seated at the same table as Todd English with Aaron sitting next to the Chef. Small world that Napa…
We also had the pleasure of the best table in the house if you ask this girl including the wines and the handsome Michael Keenan and his beautiful wife. Keenan, a local winemaker with some fierce bottles is also a terrific chef and the talk of food and wine abounded.
Culinary Institute of America – Website Here
2555 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574
Flavor! Napa Valley Event – Website Here