The average day on the job consists of a lot of email, a lot of phone calls, and usually a lot of time with my friend Excel.
On Wednesday, I had a chance to do something SO DIFFERENT and SO right up my alley! I had a chance to participate in a team builder this week that was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!
We went to the Gourmet Spoon cooking school for a day of learning grilling techniques! The only female in the group, I was curious how the whole event would go. Seeing this sign when we walked into the classroom, I knew we were in for a treat.
I took a picture of this sign for my sister-in-law because she’s always using butter… and I’m always trying to find an alternative. Still, if the spirit of Julia Child was present, I knew we were going to be cooking some fantastic food. You just can’t quote Julia without bringing it!
Chef Dan was our instructor and he did an awesome job of leading our crew through grilling techniques. He kept his instruction concise, yet full of incredibly important tips about grilling.
The biggest one I picked up on: Your food should be DRY when it hits the grill, including your veggies. How many times have I put a piece of chicken on the grill soaking in marinade? When you remove the excess liquid, your food cooks better! During the class, I had one of the best pieces of grilled chicken ever, and it was only seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Our lunch was to include some steak, salmon, and chicken grilled to perfection with two different sauce options. I got assigned to the salad team. This wasn’t actually my team’s team builder, so I let myself fit into open slots. I was SO excited to be chosen for the salad team. The salad team was responsible for cooking a Nicoise Salad with Grilled Tomato Vinaigrette. This was a vegetarian Nicoise, so it lacked the tuna…. and this salad was incredible!
Check out those gorgeous veggies. Here’s the crazy part… we seasoned everything we ate only with olive oil, salt, and pepper. These veggies were a few of those featured in our salad. Our salad included a beautiful platter of the following:
Grilled Asparagus, Grilled Tomatoes, Grilled Potatoes, Grilled Red Peppers, Grilled Onions, and (wait for it) Grilled Romaine
It was AMAZING! The chef would task us with different activities that we would be responsible for, and he challenged me to arrange our platter.
The romaine lettuce was grilled to perfection by simply brushing it lightly with olive oil, and setting it on the grill for about 30 seconds to let the lettuce wilt slightly. Then we chopped the lettuce and placed it on the platter.
Here’s what I loved about this class (besides the food, of course.) Food is really the great unifier. All people, all ages, and with all different interests come together when you put them in the kitchen. Seeing this same mixed group break into huge grins when they saw grill marks on a beautiful fresh tomato was remarkable. Seeing them get excited as they planned to make these dishes for their wives, and seeing them practice new knife techniques… it was just awesome.
While my company graciously paid for me to take this class, it made me realize I want to take more classes like this in the future, including a knife skills class. Our local Whole Foods, Sur La Table, and Williams-Sonoma stores all have free classes that they offer, and I’d suggest you check your local stores as well for classes like this.
I’d also suggest that this might be a great thing to add to your Christmas list. I guarantee you’ll walk away with new skills and a new appreciation for a new ingredient. I certainly did.
Have you ever attended a cooking class?