Cooking classes are usually hit-or-miss for me. I love the art of cooking and I love learning quick tips from experienced chefs, but often you find the chef making something you don’t care to learn, or the chef is not engaging and interesting.
Well, De Gustibus was an experience not quite like any other. Chef Douglas Keane of two Michelin star eatery Cyrus in Healdsburg, Calif., and you may remember him from “Top Chef” Season 1, where he was a guest judge.
So, clearly, the chef’s credentials are top notch, as are many of the chefs who come by to teach a class at De Gustibus. There’s a feeling of exclusivity and closeness with the chef when you want in. The crowd in the class is clearly well-educated and experienced in cooking. The yappy Arlene Feltman Sailhac, founder of De Gustibus, throws out questions and directs the chef and students accordingly.
On the lesson plan for Keane were dishes that I would have normally not have dreamed of making in my own kitchen. Hiramasa with cauliflower cream, uni puree and dashi gelee; billi bi (mussel) soup with saffron threads; seared scallop with matsutake mushrooms and a lotus root/dried scallop broth; and finally, a pan-roasted duck breast, braised red cabbage and chestnut confit. It sounds daunting, doesn’t it?
Tracking down those ingredients may be a bit difficult, and would most likely cost you close to $200 for a party of 4, But after tasting the dishes, my ultimate conclusion was that it would be well worth it. (Especially since flying to California to eat Chef Keane’s cooking on a whim is not always an option.)
His instructions were easy to follow and clearly thought out. And there was an embedded fun in watching a world-class chef prepare your dinner before your eyes.
The Champagne and wine was plentiful and I loved that the chef would pass around certain ingredients so that we could all sniff and touch the ones we were less familiar with.
De Gustibus boasts quite the list of chefs who come through with classes, from Iron Chef Cat Cora to the well-revered Daniel Boulud. Their classes start at $95 a pop. For more information head to www.degustibusnyc.com.