When you arrive you don your apron (yours to keep) wash your hands, and take a seat at the kitchen counter. After a brief introduction, we begin discussing the recipes for the class. You will learn how and where to shop and select all the ingredients and learn the key techniques which make the dish a success.
What makes the dish a success is a combination of many factors: the skill of the cook, timing, technique, seasoning, and presentation. My teacher referred to this as the three "P's"-purchasing, preparation, and presentation. Paying attention to these critical details will help ensure your culinary success.
The menu is divided into 3 or 4 parts depending on the number of students. The class separates into groups of two-three to prepare their recipes. The classes are small allowing the teacher to give adequate attention to the participants, so they are successful in cooking their recipes.
The mise en place* for each recipe is set on a tray. You read your recipe, check your "mise" and begin preparing your recipe. Julie and her assistant are nearby to help out. As each course is ready, the dishes are plated, presented at the table and paired with wine. Most of our wine is from Napa Valley or California as it pairs best with the food we cook.
We serve the first glass of wine when most of the knife work is out of the way. It is usually served with a small light bite that Julie found during her shopping for the class. It could be local artisan cheese, fresh almonds or a special heirloom vegetable or fruit.
The table is set, and we enjoy the menu with wine and conversation. After the meal, we have a quick recap of the techniques, and you are off to your next wine country stop.