Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chef Amy Tornquist announces schedule of hands-on cooking classes

Chef Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery has lost count how many times customers have asked her to teach them how to recreate her dishes at home -- or at least learn how to master some basic culinary techniques. She always demurred, saying she just could not balance the hectic demands of being a restaurant chef, running a catering business, opening Hummingbird Bakery and being a good parent to her young children.

Well, now she can. With the help of Matt Lardie, her catering operations manager at Sage & Swift, Tornquist has announced a series of hands-on cooking classes. Because participants will need to roll up their sleeves and have ample room to work, class sizes will be limited to 10 to 14 participants, depending on the topic. (An exception is a wine and cheese pairings class, which is open to 16.)   

"I have done tons (of classes) but not offered them at our own space," Tornquist says. "It took Matt's leadership to get us going. I like the idea of getting to serve a little wine and feed folks and do more hands-on instruction" than is available at some other venues.

All classes will be held at Sage & Swift, 2595 Whilden Drive in Durham, unless otherwise noted. To register for classes, which are expected to fill quickly, call 919-957-7889. Tornquist welcomes suggests for additional classes to be scheduled in the spring.
 
Jan. 15: Southern Pies
Tornquist will provide both a history lesson on Southern pies and hands-on instruction on how to make three classics: pecan pie, buttermilk chess pie and sweet potato pie. She and Lardie, who previously worked for her as a pastry chef, will share the secrets behind a perfectly flaky crust. Participants will get to sample each pie and take home both the recipes for each and individual-size pies to enjoy at home. ($50; 12 person limit)
 
Jan. 29: Pot Roast and Pinot Noir
Warm up with classic comfort foods and well-paired wines. The class will cover three dishes: pot roast, macaroni and cheese, and chili, along with tips for selecting wines to match the menu. Participants will sip and sup while chopping and stirring, as well as take home recipes and doggy bags. ($50, 12 person limit)
 
Feb. 12: Soup for Supper
Tornquist will teach some of her favorite winter soup recipes along with classic accompaniments to turn a bowl of soup into a satisfying winter meal. Details are to be announced, but think butternut squash and a cheddar scone. Also learn how to make her favorite mulled wine. Participants will leave with recipes and containers of soup to enjoy at home. ($50, 14 person limit)
 
Feb. 26: Perfect Pairings: Wine and Cheese (Location TBA)
Learn how to assemble a balanced wine and cheese pairing for entertaining or at-home nibbling. Participants will be introduced to some of North Carolina's best artisan cheeses and sample great wines from around the globe. ($50, 16 person limit) 
 
March 5: Easy Cheese-Making
If you think making cheese at home means pressing a button on a can of Cheese Whiz, get ready to have your mind blown. With assistance from Lardie, who formerly was associated with Hillsborough Cheese Company, participants will learn the basic principles of cheese-making along with recipes for crème fraiche, ricotta and paneer. ($35, 14 person limit)

March 19: Stir Fry 101
One of the world's oldest cooking tools is also one of the most versatile to have in a modern kitchen. Tornquist and Lardie, the latter of whom runs the popular Wok Wednesdays website in collaboration with wok cooking expert Grace Young, will teach how to use a wok to stir-fry, steam, braise, deep-fry food, as well as smoke meats and vegetables. Participants will learn three easy recipes that demonstrate the versatility and simplicity of stir-frying. Registration includes a new wok and wok spatula. ($55, 10 person limit) 

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