hail to the chef

ha.  You didn’t see that coming did you?  So goofy in the season of politics which I hate and so often find divisive and without focus on the common good.  Happily finding other things to do than watch debates which don’t really answer my questions.

Last week we went to a cooking class demonstration in the Whole Foods Lifestyle Center.   A free class we didn’t know what to expect going into it.  It was led by Chef Bruno Fonseca of 5ive Gastronomy.  He came in with comments that he wasn’t going to teach chefy things but rather, things that would be doable for a home cook and that they would be great sides to accompany a holiday meal. 

He started out by demoing a shallot sherry vinaigrette.  He oven roasted some shallots with a little olive oil and a pinch of sugar and salt.  Sugar?!  Yeah, sugar and is it that big a deal?  Could have been honey or agave. There was a lady who was a  walk in to the class and was a complete unhappy jack-wagon with her comments about sugar.  She was crazy indignant that he would use a pinch of sugar and not be able to tell her the total amount she would ingest.  She was really snipy and uncaring in her presentation and tried to drive the bus and Chef Bruno with her comments.  He stood his ground well.  Really, a pinch of sugar between you and your 20 new closest friends isn’t going to be what takes you over the edge.  If it is, you shouldn’t walk in to a class and work at the ruination of our planned evening.  He whazzed it up in his fierce roughly five hundred dollar blender while adding some grapeseed oil and then a bit of olive oil.  Doable on every level but my blender doesn’t touch it.  He combined the dressing with frisee and spring mix with goat cheese, roasted beets and pepitas.  My friend Karin said, ‘I’m in love with this salad.’  Boys, get yourself this blender and you can wow the ladies too!

As he started the second course he dropped parsnips and celery root in a sous vide.  I don’t really find that totally accessible for a home cook.  I am more or less accomplished and probably wouldn’t do it.   He threw out the set up of a sous vide as about $500.  I likely wouldn’t just because I know I wouldn’t use it often even knowing my eggs could be sublime. I was excited about trying both parsnips and celery root as I am not sure I have had either previously.  He started some mushrooms in butter and thyme.  And pulled some previously prepped and roasted butternut out of the oven.

Then he started the piece de resistance which wasn’t the finale.  Butternut squash and mushroom risotto.  I have had risottos here and there and this was a down to earth representation of a long cooking dish.  His stock wasn’t homemade-you can use boxed but throw in some herbs, thyme is his favorite.  He added a lot of butter to the hugest beat down cooking pot and set some onions sweating.  The usual sort of risotto stuff, then added the arborio rice.  He dumped in a half bottle of drinkable wine and began with the scoops of stock.  Nothing unusual.  He finished with butter, loads of parmesan and the mushrooms and butternut squash as well as some pumpkin oil which I found amazing.  I love it as much as I hate truffle oil.  I must be the only one in America who doesn’t care for truffle oil.  I wish I did because everyone finishes with it now and I can’t get past one bite.  This was likely the best risotto I’ve had.  It was a little toothier than I wanted but it was so flavorful I think I will try it at home.

He brined and roasted a chicken and finished some sprouts in bacon fat.  Brining is kind of miraculous and I’ve not done it before but I think I will.  His chicken was so moist.  Yeah, I said moist.  Butter under the skin delightful.  I like sprouts finished other ways but this was nice with the cream finished parsnips and celery root.  I liked those very much.  A nice textural and flavor change from potatoes.

No dessert but with food this good I can do without. Also fairly accessible if you are willing to spend the time.  It’s all about time.  You also have to care about it.  So many could do it but just don’t want to.  You can tell how much Chef Bruno really cares for food and clearly, the people he cooks for.




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