Gluten-Free Cooking Classes at Trident Technical This Spring

jeffkubina

Jeff Kubina

One in three Americans is trying to follow a gluten-free diet. And whether or not they’re snubbing the grain protein for valid health reasons – fewer than one percent of the population is coping with celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten intolerance – their desire for eggplant parmesan, gravy and mac-n-cheese that don’t taste like sawdust is understandable.

Trident Technical College is trying to appeal to those discerning eaters with a pair of new workshops: Gluten-Free Kids’ Favorites and Gluten-Free Dinners. Both classes feature entrée overviews and a recipe exchange. Continue reading

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

Author Sheri Castle Helps Prepare Party Hosts For the Holidays

SheriCastle_authorphoto

Stewart Waller

Although students in Sheri Castle’s holiday hors d’oeuvres class at Southern Season this weekend will learn how to assemble a range of impressive items, not every dish on the demonstration menu is highly elaborate: The first appetizer on the syllabus is a roast beef, asparagus and Boursin wrap.

Castle, a cookbook author and cooking instructor from Chapel Hill, N.C., is a proponent of keeping kitchen projects manageable during the holidays – especially when expecting lots of hungry guests.

“Don’t tackle more than you and your schedule can handle,” Castle advises. “Make sure your menu includes plenty of make-ahead and low-maintenance items; It’s fine to fill in with a few thoughtfully purchased items.” 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

Burwell’s Celebrates Birthday With a Steak Boast

Another local restaurant is turning one, and it’s celebrating by crunching numbers.

According to a release from Burwell’s, the downtown restaurant overcooked just 12 steaks out of every 30,000 it served over the past year. “That’s a solid standard,” the release says. (Presumably, that number reflects the judgment of the kitchen, not its customers: If only a dozen out of every 30,000 customers complain, Burwell’s has assembled the friendliest group of eaters ever to grace a dining room.)

As for the temperatures the kitchen was trying to achieve, “80 percent (of steaks) were ordered either medium or medium rare,” the release reports.

No word on whether any steaks were sent back for undercooking.

Chopped Conducts Contestant Search in Charleston

Thanksgiving has traditionally been a time for talented cooks to shine, and that may be especially true this year in Charleston as the holiday coincides with the deadline for Chopped applications.

Professional chefs and talented amateurs interested in competing on the Food Network show are being invited to submit resumes and photos in advance of the production team’s upcoming trip to Charleston. Although Thanksgiving 2013 is the official cut-off date for applications, sharp chefs will want to enter their materials sooner, since in-person interviews will be scheduled for the third week of November. Continue reading

Taste of Charleston Iron Chef Pits Men Against Women

bildeIt’s unimaginable that a friendly competition would divide chefs by religion, race or ethnic background. But the gender war format is exceedingly popular in culinary circles: When Top Chef went to Texas, it pitted men against women in Restaurant Wars, and MasterChef Australia built an entire season around the conceit.

And next weekend, Taste of Charleston is basing its Iron Chef event around the “men vs. women” theme, following up on the gender allegiances which naturally rippled through the crowd at last year’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival when Michelle Weaver and Mike Lata met in the Waffle House Smackdown.

At Taste of Charleston, the showdown features Drew Hedlund (Fleet Landing) and Brandon Buck (Middleton Place) taking on Jael Allen (Mosaic) and Eva Broyles (Eli’s Table).

So what happens if the women win? Does a victory advance the cause of kitchen equality? Or does it reinforce the idea that men and women cook differently? Continue reading