Cooking class meets dinner party: inside an Arts Club Theatre Company fundraiser
The Arts Club Theatre Company is in the midst of its fall series of celebrity cooking classes, which they hold as fundraisers twice a year. I attended the class last night (October 19) as a media guest. Each class is taught by a different chef and for this event, executive chef Shane McNeil of Bridges restaurant was instructing.
These cooking classes are unique in that they’re held in a variety of private homes around Metro Vancouver, rather than at a cooking school or restaurant. As soon as I arrived, I noticed that this totally affected the vibe of the class: it was like a spirited dinner party, with all the guests mingling. Eighteen participants gathered in the spacious home kitchen, grazing on a charcuterie plate and sipping wine before things got underway.
Below, Carolyn Ali photos
The three-hour evening was casual but well-paced, with McNeil demonstrating cooking techniques along with Bridges pastry chef Brian Busenius. They prepared three courses, and each was paired with Rigamarole wines. (The wine sponsor is different for each class.) There wasn’t a lot of hands-on participation, although guests could take the opportunity to assemble black rockfish in a paper packet. It was fun piling on the tomato, fennel, olives, capers, and lemons and sealing the little packet en papillote. I’ll definitely be making this dish again at home.
The nice thing about the class was its be-as-involved-as-you-like nature. Some people chose to hang out in the dining room socializing and simply enjoyed the courses as they were finished, while others chatted with the chef as he prepared the meal. He and Busenius were happy to answer all kinds of cooking questions, not just about that night’s menu. And the espresso-braised beef short ribs McNeil made—served with spelt risotto and chanterelle mushrooms—were delicious.
The apple pecan cake with butterscotch sauce was also fabulous. (No secret to why that toffee sauce was so decadent—piles of brown sugar, heavy cream, and butter.) It was even better served with Bridges’ house-made vanilla bean gelato and paired with Ganton & Larsen icewine.
At the end of the class, everyone walked away with recipes for all three courses. I have a hunch that for some people, the recipes were just a bonus. They came for a fun evening out, and they got it. These classes would be a great place to take a date you don’t know very well (or a spouse who knows you too well), as there’s plenty of action and conversational diversion.
Four more evenings are scheduled through November. The next class runs November 2 and features Dennis Huang of Gramercy Grill with Mission Hill Family Estate wines. Tickets cost $125 per person and include a $50 tax receipt. Call 604-687-5315 extension 248 or see artsclub.com/ for more.
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