Chef Andrea Rosenblatt opened A. Chef’s Cooking Studio in March of 2007. She discovered a love of teaching while in culinary school, helping with community education classes. “I have always loved solving a problem, reworking it, and finding a simple way to address it and explain that theory – teaching about food is just that,” says Andrea. “Figure out why and what the mystery is. Once I figure that out, I rework it and find a simple clear way to share so that repeating at home become second nature.”
And this formula for teaching is clearly working. When we arrived at the Friday night Tapas Party, people were scattered all over the studio’s kitchen. Some were first-timers like us, but others were studio regulars – 20, 30, even 40 classes in. The group chatted amiably, sipping on the array of wines on offer and examining the stations that were set up on two large tables in the middle of the space.
Then the chatter died down as Chef Andrea began to talk. It was immediately apparent why, even apart from learning a new skill, so many people came back time and again. Chef Andrea was witty and personable, throwing in amusing stories of her failures then successes with the recipes chosen for tonight. She described each of the dishes that we would be working on – from lamb chops to salt cod fritters – and told us to pick a station. This style of class was a little less technique-based than some of the others, so we would start to follow the recipe as Andrea and Chef Greg Johnson came around to help and give tips.
Heather and I made our way to the Chicken & Chorizo Paella station. This was a scaled-down version of a typically enormous dish, but it was still a little intimidating. Heather opted to read off the recipe while I sautéed and threw ingredients into the pan. Once the saffron gold-tinted mixture was simmering away, our recipe became pretty hands-off, so we wandered around the kitchen, seeing how the other students were getting along.
It was a lively, friendly group. A few people knew each other before the class, but everyone had become fast friends – the trial-and-much-error of cooking tends to bond you. So does food. And there was a lot of it. This being a tapas class, instead of eating as a group once everything was complete, we noshed on the dishes as they were finished. And without exception, everything was delicious.
Every now and then, I would check back on the simmering paella. Chef Andrea came to join me, talking effortlessly about cooking techniques. “You don’t want to stir it around much,” she said, lifting the aluminum foil to a cloud of steam and the aromatic scent of saffron. “The toasted rice on the bottom of the pan is called socarrat, and it’s the part of the dish that everyone wants.” Chef Andrea and Chef Greg passed on this kind of knowledge to each station, instructing on what you were looking for when making the dish and what to avoid. Even though they’re not standing over you the whole time, you walk away from the class thinking, “I could go home and do this myself.”
The very social, hands-on Friday night parties are only one style of class offered by the studio. You could sit and watch the pros during a Demo & Discuss class or hone your kitchen techniques at the Home Chef Series. From the mouthwatering food to the passionate instructors, there are a hundred reasons why we’ll be back in the studio.