Sunday, December 06, 2009

Demonstration cooking class with Chef Ned Bell

This Saturday I went to a cooking demonstration with Chef Ned Bell at Thrifty Foods Tuscany Village here in Victoria. What a fantastic class. It was inspiring and informational as Chef Bell dispelled his passion for quality, local ingredients and his command of the kitchen.

Chef Bell is executive chef and and co-owner of Cabana Bar and Grille in Kelowna. He's an accomplished chef, and while he looked familiar I couldn't figure out why until today. Food Network Canada. I use to love watching Food Network Canada's Cook Like a Chef. I've learned so much from watching Chef Bell and others as the cameras got in close and captured every angle of their preparation and cooking.

Chef Bell strives to achieve three elements with his restaurant and its menu- approachability, consistency and accessibility. This is good to remember for us home cooks as well. There's something to be said for simple yet delicious meals that provide comfort, nourishment and enjoyment. People don't need to seek out obscure ingredients in order to keep meals interesting.

The demonstration included parsnip and celeriac soup with maple syrup apples and Qualicum Brie cheese toasts. Ultimately, this is a relatively simple autumn soup that is brought up a notch (or two) by adding diced apples in maple syrup, toasted hazelnuts and topped with a little crostini with melted brie. By using a little creativity and food pairings knowledge, you can revitalize any tired recipe with a few additional ingredients. Just try it.

One of the best parts of the class is that everyone got a take-away gift of Lapin Cherries in sweet Merlot syrup. I can't wait until next summer to try canning these. When cherries are back in season, buy five to ten pounds. Wash, clean and can them in a Merlot and sugar syrup. Use large jars to keep for yourself and small jars to give away as gifts. Delicious!

It was another amazing cooking class. In Victoria, we are fortunate to have so many great cooking schools and chefs willing to share their knowledge. If you haven't taken a class before, I encourage you to take browse at our city's offerings and sign up for one. And, a cooking class makes an excellent gift for anyone who loves to cook or is aspiring to learn.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

That soup sounds wonderful. I'm going to try growing celeriac in my garden this year - it's very expensive here.