Whenever we travel abroad we make sure to sample the local fares and delicacies, especially traditional dishes. But how often do we get to see and understand how they’re actually made, especially by a local chef? Well, pretty much never! We’ve always wanted to know and experience more about the food we enjoy across the world, and finally there is a way to do that – right in your own kitchen!
Recently, we came in contact with a company who has a truly unique service called The Chef and The Dish – a company that specializes in date-night and group party events where you receive live cooking instructions from a professional chef. The coolest part? The chefs working through The Chef and The Dish specialize in authentic, regional cuisine, and come to you live via Skype from their home countries!
Our special occasion was a truly special one indeed – our ten-year wedding anniversary! Looking for something unique to do, something that was different and excitingly romantic, Tracy and I contacted The Chef and The Dish, and found the perfect way to celebrate our big day together!
The premise is simple, but fascinating – a professional chef specializing in regional cuisines comes to you via Skype live from that location. The chef gives you background on their country and region, and the cuisines that come from their home, before leading you on a step by step, instructional guide to cooking a real, authentic meal – just the way the chefs that know that cuisine best do.
Began by Jenn Nicken, The Chef and The Dish is something that, once we found out, we simply had to try – with Tracy and me each having culinary backgrounds after years of working in the restaurant industry. Our experience was, quite honestly, amazing. This is the coolest and most enjoyable experience we’ve had in a very long time, and the process from Step 1 all the way through completion of our class was nothing but fantastic.
We’re going to give you our honest review, and tell you exactly the type of experience we had in our class with The Chef and The Dish, and why we’re so excited about tell you all about this tremendous service that Jenn Nicken and her team are offering!
Step 1: The Arrangement
When you first reach out to The Chef and The Dish for your master cooking class, you’ll notice how many culinary options there are for your class – in everything ranging from Southern American Cuisine and European Spanish, to Northern Italian and even Asian Classics. Within each country option (eight countries as of the writing of this article – and growing), there are sub-divisions within that cuisine.
For example, if you want to have a class on Italian food, you’ll be able to select a specific focus for the meal you’re taught to cook live – including a focus on Parmigiano Reggiano (the one we selected), Raviolo, Sicilian, Milanese, and a host of other options within each.
Working with Jenn and her team, you’ll select your course and find a mutually acceptable time to hold your cooking class. Prior to the actual class, however, The Chef and The Dish makes sure you’re fully prepared by sending you a full grocery list, background on the chef that will be leading your class, as well as schedules a pre-session run-through of your kitchen, equipment, and set-up requirements.
Which leads us to Step 2…
Step 2: The Prep Session
Jenn comes to you, live via Skype, to discuss the structure of your course, gives you background information on the chef that will be leading your course, and makes sure you know how to position your computer for the best possible experience. In addition, she leads you through a detailed understanding of the grocery list, what you’ll be cooking, and an understanding of all the materials that will be needed through the course.
In addition to this helpful step, Jenn is incredibly fun to work with, information, energetic and helpful! This was a major step in our process that helped us to go into our actual course with the confidence that we were going to have a great time, and get the most out of the experience!
The leader of our class was Chef Paola Martinenghi, who came to us live from her home in Milan, Italy! Chef Paola’s resume is extensive and impressive, a Michelin-star restaurant chef who graduated top of class at the prestigious ALMA in Parma, Italy. In addition, she owns 9FoodPR, an organization dedicated to finding the best gastronomic producers in Italy to preserve and promote their traditional methods of production.
Once you’re prepped and ready to go there’s only one step left…
Step 3: Time to Cook!
Before your class, you want to spend a little time getting your ingredients, equipment, dishes, and kitchen supplies ready. Getting organized makes for a seamless experience, and really maximizes your enjoyment of the experience!
Chef Paola was teaching us to cook a three-course meal, all consisting of one of the ingredients that defines true Italian cooking – Parmigiano Reggiano. For appetizer, she led us through the preparation of a fantastic bruschetta, to be followed by an authentic carbinara, and poached pear with ricotta for dessert.
You wouldn’t believe how delicious this was, and how fun to make!
First, Chef Paola had us start by preparing the pears for the desert…
… as well as the ricotta mixture to finish it off at a later time.
Once the base of our dessert was accomplished, we began prepping our bruschetta but cutting some Italian bread (we could only find French, but fortunately it was thick enough to serve its purpose!)
And what is bruschetta without peeled, chopped tomatoes?
Once this is prepped with the other ingredients necessary for a great bruschetta, we moved on to prepping for our carbonara while the bruschetta baked.
Of course, no carbonara is right without authentic, Italian-made pasta…
And, a little panchetta…
Then Chef Paola taught us the secrets on how to bring it all together to make a classic, traditional, and delicious carbonara!
Then, it’s time to bring it all together, starting with the bruschetta…
Then finishing off the poached pear dessert…
The result? A three-course masterpiece!
Our experience with The Chef and The Dish, Chef Paola, and Jenn Nicken’s team was a one-of-a-kind experience that we hope everyone who loves cuisine and a good time will experience.
The result of the meal was one of the best things we’ve ever tasted, a truly authentic Italian series that rivaled what we’ve had in our travels there – made right in our own kitchen! We highly recommend The Chef and The Dish – for whichever cuisine speaks to you – for the perfect date-night, dinner with friends, anniversary, or simply for a fun night in! When you can’t travel to the cuisine you dream of, have a chef transported right into your kitchen!