Bringing Sevilla to Bethesda

It’s not all just cookbook writing for me as of late. There’s still the classes that have to be done. Yesterday I had two classes at Sur La Table – “Gnocchi Workshop” and “British Sunday Roast.” Both went in credibly well, and it was in a conversation with one of my students that I had after the class that lead me to create a new class: “Italian Desserts.”

Tonight, I have my second in a series of classes for Fairfax County on “Northern Italian Cuisine.” As you can see, the writing of the cookbook has to sort-of sneak in between my teaching of classes, shopping for ingredients, planning my schedule and of course, something at might someday resemble a social life.

But I’m not complaining – it’s good to be busy, and I love the classes!

And I thought I’d share a particularly fun one I did just recently in Bethesda, MD. Last year, I was asked by a friend to donate some of my cooking skills to a fundraiser for Red Wiggler Farm. While making risotto for a crowd that I was finishing to order is quite the undertaking at a large outdoor event, I managed to pull it off – everyone was coming back for thirds.

Well, as a result of that appearance, I was contacted by Rob, who wanted to buy a Christmas present for his mom in the form of a cooking class.

Aside: Dear readers, I cannot stress how great an idea this is!

Anyway, the class she wanted was a Spanish Tapas class that was a mixture of demonstration and participation. Their friends offered up their awesome kitchen as a space to work in, and it was an afternoon and evening of great fun, food and wine from Spain.

After the event, they emailed me the photos they took of the event, and I will share some of them with you now:

Gearing up for a wonderful cooking class with Mark, who kindly let me use his (and his wife’s) kitchen for the class.

Some of the early offerings – Artichoke and Serrano Ham Toasts.

Call it a frittata, omelet or tortilla – filled with asparagus and Manchego, it’s delicious no matter what the name!

But the star of the show was the Garlic-Flambeed Shrimp. The competition for largest flame was intense. Here Bruce starts off with a nice entry.

Rob steps it up.

His wife comes in even larger, and maybe she scared herself a little with this one…

But you can’t set off that many flames in the kitchen without attracting the attention of a 10 year old! Caroline (and I) watch closely as her son, Kai, gets ready to try his hand at the shrimp.

I think this photo shows all you need to know about how he felt about getting to set a pan on fire. 🙂

The class completed, and everyone was happy – especially the class recipient, Natalie.

The concept of flame was such a hit with the crowd that they asked me if I also knew how to do Bananas Foster. I replied that I did, and to do it, we would need bananas, butter, brown sugar and rum. Since this was a Spanish Tapas class, I hadn’t brought those things. “Oh, I think we have all that!” they said with great enthusiasm. Minutes later, we were burning the kitchen down again. It’s always a good sign that a class has gone well when the students ask to cook more at the end.

Kai told me as I was cleaning up that he now “knew what he wanted to do when he grew up”. Should we be worried that rather than wanting to be a firefighter, he wants a job setting fires?

Nah, I’m not worried either. 🙂

But what really set this class apart from all others, was how Natalie wrote me back a few days after the class to show me that she had made some of the recipes I taught her, and she was proud of how they had turned out:

“Here’s my first attempt at the omelette which turned out very well. I’ve since tried the potatoes bravas and also the chorizo skewers and all were equally successful.”

Wow. Now that’s how you know a class went great! I’ve never received feedback or follow-up like that. It’s those kinds of things that let me know I’m doing the right thing being a culinary instructor.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shop for tonight’s class…

Chef Matt

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One Response to “Bringing Sevilla to Bethesda”

  1. Lindsey says:

    Chef Matt,

    This cooking session looks like SOOOOOOOO much fun. Haven’t had the nerve to light anything (intentionally) on fire in our kitchen yet. I hope you are well, happy cooking!