Zero George Cooking Class Wins Recognition From Food & Wine

cook3“I’m starving,” a student in Zero George’s weekly Saturday morning cooking class exclaimed as she reluctantly handed off a cauliflower floret for the next student to examine.

Executive chef Randy Williams’ two-hour instructional sessions, which this month were honored by Food & Wine as one of the nation’s top three new cooking courses, are far from frivolous eating-and-drinking affairs: He doesn’t uncork a bottle of wine until the second hour starts. Instead, as I observed when I swung by this weekend, the classes are designed to emphasize contemporary techniques and encourage students to think like chefs.

On Saturday, Williams – wearing a chef’s jacket and cowboy boots – demonstrated how to prepare a butternut squash puree, roasted pork loin and olive oil cake. The cake recipe he distributed was written out in metric measurements, because “that’s how more people like to do it now.” He also stressed asymmetrical plating and advised that “people are getting away from blanching vegetables ahead of time.” Continue reading

Chef Bill Smith Demystifies Gravy at Southern Season This Monday

bill_photoPumpkin pie may polarize, and oyster dressing may excite, but there’s no Thanksgiving food which terrorizes so reliably as gravy.

“People are always calling me up at this time of the year, sounding as if they are standing at the stove with whisk in hand, and asking for instructions on making it,” reports chef Bill Smith of Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner.

Smith (whose status as the son of a renowned Jerusalem artichoke pickle maker earned him a spot in my seasonal pickle story this week) is now bringing his gravy expertise to Southern Season ‘s cooking school. He’s teaching a course this Monday at 6 p.m. For $50, participants receive instruction in three different gravy-making methods. Continue reading