I never really got the whole "pay somebody for the opportunity to cook your own food" deal at places like the Pfunky Griddle or the Melting Pot. I saw too many drunks at the old Prime Cut downtown yanking $30 cuts of beef out of a cool fridge and throwing them straight on a red-hot grill while seasoning themselves and their steaks with Bud longnecks. Thanks, but no thanks.
But in an educational setting, that's a different story. (Ha! You thought I was going to say "a whole different kettle of fish." That would be nasty.) Paying for an instructor to teach you kitchen tricks and knife skills at some place like Salud! or Viking Cooking School can be an entertaining way to spend time with friends and get a good meal out of the process. Many of the instructors at these schools are fresh out of culinary school themselves, so what they may lack in experience they make up for with enthusiasm.
Taken to another level, the chance to learn from an executive chef with years of industry experience is an opportunity to jump at. As part of the upcoming Southern Food and Wine Festival, Michael Swann of Gaylord Opryland Resort is offering 10 lucky students a shot at being "Chef for a Day." You'll get to spend the day July 31 in their professional kitchen with Swann, executive chef of Gaylord Opryland's award-winning culinary team, for a hands-on experience of planning, shopping, cooking and then feasting on the dinner you've prepared.
If you choose to take on this assignment, you'd better pack comfortable shoes, because the schedule is full.
Finally, with the benefit of somebody else driving you back from the tasting, you'll return to the resort kitchen of Gaylord, where you will work with the Opryland Culinary Team to prepare your magnificent meal and enjoy the fruits of your labor in their special VIP Tasting Room. Don't worry...it's an open-book test. They won't let you screw it up by pouring beer on your filet.
The access to the tools and facilities of the kitchen in a major resort would be enough of a perk to make this a novel experience. The opportunity to learn from and ask questions of Chef Swann really puts this over the top. He is known in the hospitality industry as an engaging instructor with over two decades of experience in the field.
The staff at Gaylord recognizes their responsibility as members of and employers in the food service industry in Nashville and want to encourage local participation. They also know that we blog readers (and writers) have a tendency to procrastinate. Unfortunately, the deadline for early registration has already passed. If you call Chef Swann at (615) 458-1365 and tell him you saw this on Bites, however, he will waive the $100 late fee just because you're special that way. He will dock you a letter grade, though.
It's still a pricey proposition at $399. But for a full day of learning, shuttling between venues, shopping, drinking, cooking and eating, it might be the treat you deserve. All participants will also receive their own Food Network Southern Food & Wine Festival chef jacket and souvenir photo as mementos. Think how your neighbors will quake with fear as they see you step up to the backyard Weber flashing your Gaylord colors.
For a full schedule and more info, head on over to the Gaylord website here.
Former Metro councilman Jeff Ockerman hit the big time when his recipe for scallop ceviche won the Chairman's Challenge recipe contest hosted by Food Network magazine.
According to Food Network editors, "We were swimming in seafood recipes after we announced that the secret ingredient for our February/March 2009 contest was citrus. We got 20 entries for orange salmon alone! But only one dish had judges talking Iron Chef: Jeff Ockerman's scallop ceviche."
Director of Health Planning for the State of Tennessee and an adjunct professor of law at Vanderbilt University, Ockerman got the nudge to enter the contest from his 83-year old mother.
"She handed me this magazine in mid-March after I drove her and my father back home from a Florida vacation, saying 'Here, this might interest you,' " Ockerman says. "Even though I decided on the recipe quickly, I was fairly analytical. I thought of three criteria that I'd use if I were a judge: When would the winning recipe likely be printed? What's an unusual dish that's easy to make? What unexpected ingredient would make the judges notice this recipe?
"The idea of a ceviche just popped into my head; it's an interesting-sounding dish and it's very easy--mainly chopping vegetables. I had some candied citrus peel in the fridge that I'd made earlier, and I thought putting something usually used for jams and baking in a scallops-vegetable dish would attract the judges' eyes. And because the lime juice makes it so acidic, I added the citrus syrup."
The complete recipe is posted after the jump.
It's National Lasagna Day. Frankly, I can't believe I'm expected to work, what with yesterday being National Hamburger Day and tomorrow being National Cheesecake Day. Next thing I know, they'll say I'm supposed to clock in on my birthday, which is also National Fudge Day. What the fudge?!
The good news is that, in honor of this most cheese-and-pasta-layered of American food holidays, Buca di Beppo in Cool Springs is giving away a free lunch-sized portion of lasagna with purchase of small or large sized pasta or entrée.
The free lasagna is not valid on takeout orders. Presumably, you'll have to wait until National To Go Lasagna Day? I think that's April 31, right after National Oatmeal Cookie Day and the day before National Raisin Week kicks off.
When you overhear two women discussing how fast the froyo is pumping out of the self-serve machine today as compared to yesterday, you know you've stumbled across a phenomenon. That's just the type of chitchat surrounding the Belle Meade Hill Center's new candy-colored yogurt emporium, which had been open only a week when moms were confessing that they had already filled out their frequent froyo punch cards and received their first freebies.
Owner and California transplant CeCe Moore struck a nerve--or a taste bud--with her cool collection of serve-yourself frozen yogurts, eight flavors of which are available at any time. Original Tart, a tangy, mildly sweet flavor that recalls the refreshing zing of plain yogurt, is the non-fat smash hit among the moms, who load it with fresh fruit and nuts. Meanwhile, kids don't seem to notice that CeCe's chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, cheesecake, mango and Georgia peach--among others--are also low-cal and, in some cases, sugar-free. With any luck, the luscious flavors and colorful toppings will help take the sting out of ouchies, boo-boos and tetanus shots when a brace of pediatric practices moves into the office space upstairs this fall.
Of course, CeCe's offerings aren't exactly diet-right by the time you pile the Snickers, Oreos, chocolate fudge sauce, M&M's, Reese's Pieces, sour worms, gumballs and cookie dough into the tubs of cool creaminess. Furthermore, when it comes to weight-watching, be vigilant at the toppings bar. All those cookies and candy bars add up--not just in terms of calories, but in terms of dollars. Sweet CeCe's charges 45 cents per ounce, and the average treat is about $5, Moore says. Unless, of course, the kids are in charge...in which case don't be surprised to find yourself handing over bigger bills for a bowlful of jaw-breaking frozen gummy bears. Or unless the yogurt's shooting out of the machine especially fast today, as compared to yesterday.
Sweet CeCe's is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
It's not exactly a T-Mobile advert, but this weekend's display at the Farmers' Market by the Circle Players is impressive. Can any eyewitnesses testify?
As we slowly age into becoming Weather Channel watchers, The Food Network has replaced MTV as the default background noise of our household. The Celebrichefs inform and entertain in the ultimate form of reality television. The reality is that if you don't eat, you don't live. So why not enjoy yourself?
The Food Network is bringing several of the stars of their programming to the Gaylord Opryland Resort for The Southern Festival of Food and Wine, July 31 through Aug. 2. In addition to cooking demonstrations from many local chefs, wine tastings and an exhibit hall featuring local and national purveyors of food and cooking products, you can also meet and greet Alton Brown, Pat and Gina Neely and the Deen boys, Jamie and Bobby. The private dinner with Alton has already sold out, but there are still plenty of opportunities to press the flesh with him and the other kitchen dignitaries. A full schedule of the proceedings is hiding here.
But it's not all about the national notables. The best of our fair city will also be featured at the Festival. The Loveless Cafe's "Biscuit Lady" Carol Fay will present two cooking seminars. Perhaps that's the reason Bobby Flay hasn't joined his Food Network compatriots after the butt-whuppin' he took from Carol on his Throwdown show. Other sessions will cover wine and cheese pairings, cooking techniques and the latest in high-end kitchen porn appliances.
Another highlight will be "An Evening with Lucianno Castellio." The representative from the famous Banfi Winery will walk and talk diners through a wine tour of Italy as paired with the cuisine of executive chef Jason Kroll. A separate registration of $125 is required for the dinner and degustation, but it may be the best meal served in town that evening.
If you're into competitive cooking, Hamilton Beach is sponsoring a competition to find the best Slow Cooker in America. This is opposed to the Slowest Cook in America, a title claimed by our own Mr. Pink, who claims to still be working on a grilled cheese sandwich he started last autumn. Chili will be the theme for this year's competition, so come on down and bring your secret recipe or just watch the contestants fight to be crowned "King of the Krock."
For discounted hotel rates and complete registration information, check out the Gaylord Opryland Resort website. Loosen your belt a notch, and we'll see you there.
The interior of Far East--the new Vietnamese at the corner of 11th and Fatherland, is a style quickly becoming familiar--clean, functional, industrial yet homey. Call it Aughties Resto.
Limes were being squeezed by the dozen at the counter, so a tall glass of the brisk sweet-tart limeade was a foregone conclusion. Starter of fresh shrimp rolls, bafflingly served with what tasted like straight-from-the-bottle hoisin topped with chopped peanuts. Raise your hand if you love hoisin straight from the bottle.
Man-size portions of lemongrass grilled chicken and fish-sauce grilled eggplant with ground pork followed. These were dinner-sized portions served with sticky rice. The chicken was delicious, with a sweet coating that caramelized over the flames. No lemongrass flavor in evidence but still nicely done. Grilled eggplant and ground pork was straightforward, maybe a little bland, so I was heaping chili paste onto it when the server arrived with nuoc cham sauce for dipping/pouring over. Nuoc cham, one of the traditional dips for fresh shrimp rolls. Just sayin. Entrées were $8 and $9 respectively.
It's worth a trip, and I hope to return for the pho, which gets high marks for its rich broth, and for the Vietnamese sandwiches.
We told you last week about the upcoming kick-off party for the Tennessee Repertory Theatre's 25th season happening from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29 at Acorn restaurant.
We now know a few more details. For its silver celebration, The Rep has lined up as close to a season of sure things as the stage offers anymore, from revivals of Steel Magnolias and Proof to a new stage adaptation of A Christmas Story and a new mounting of Roger Miller's Big River. To celebrate its anniversary, and entice viewers for the coming season, The Rep offers staged readings from the featured plays performed by a stellar ensemble: Shane Bridges, Brooke Bryant, Ruth Cordell, Anna Felix, Henry Haggard, Mary Jane Harvill, Denice Hicks, Andy Kanies, Bakari King, Eric D. Pasto-Cosby, Carrie Tillis, Peter Vann, Patrick Waller, Samuel Whited, David Wilkerson and Bobby Wyckoff.
In addition to stimulating your mind, to satisfy your more corporeal needs the Acorn is offering a menu of:
Lump Crab Cakes with Lemon and Cracked Pepper Aioli
Hummus and Pita
Parmesan Laced Tomato and Olive Oil Bruschetta
Roasted Beef Carved Station with Yeast Rolls & condiments
Assorted Petit Fours
online or by calling 244-4878.
The Acorn is located at a 114 28th Ave. S.
Some bright light developed a way to prevent blazing coffee from sloshing out of the coffee lid.
This little flap seems like genius in preventing splashes as you juggle doughnuts, purse and keys on your way out of the Krispy Kreme and into your car.
Yeah, I know--I should get out more.
This weekend, the family cruised past 4023 Nolensville Road, where La Cocina de Paula is operating in the fast-food restaurant shell that formerly housed Super Pollo.
Open since June, La Cocina de Paula serves a menu of what owner Susana Guerrero describes as "typical Mexican food." Writing on the windows promises fish, chicken and steak.
Don't be misled by the illustrated menu board at the drive-through--it's not hooked up, but might be someday, Guerrero says. Also, La Cocina de Paula is open for neither late-night fare nor 6 a.m. breakfast, as the signage would indicate. Breakfast service might come in time, but for now, La Cocina de Paula is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Fox family unit was not to be diverted from the fish-taco-and-ceviche constitutional up the road at La Hacienda, so I didn't get to partake. Has anyone checked out La Cocina de Paula?
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