Attracting everyone from gourmands to kitchen novices, the Brasserie’s Cooking Class Series seems to have perfected the right mix to keep folks coming back for seconds. The classes, which started in April, are hugely popular, necessitating a ‘reservations only’ policy.
According to the Brasserie’s general manager and sommelier, Kyle Kennedy, the classes were started as a way “to be more interactive and more natural with the Brasserie and the Brasserie Market’s clientele,” as well as “attracting a wider appreciation of the restaurant’s cooking philosophy of using locally sourced ingredients where possible and creating meals from produce, meat and fish that are in season.”
To this end, the restaurant has invested plenty of time and effort fostering working partnerships with fishermen and livestock farmers and creating its on-site organic vegetable garden, so that herbs and vegetables can be hand-picked on the day of use, as well as the majority of the seafood used being provided by The Brasserie’s own fishing boat, Brasserie Catch.
“We’re passionate about selecting only the freshest ingredients for our dishes and bringing a dynamic Caribbean sensibility to our meals… our patrons appreciate it,” says Kyle.
“To prepare a dish using breadfruit in a novel way that showcases its taste and texture and having people who’ve lived in Cayman for years remark on its versatility is music to our chefs’ ears,” he says.
“Half the fun of the cooking class series is in showing guests our executive chef and consulting chef’s personalities,” he added. “Our classes are specifically designed to highlight the breadth of culinary skills the Brasserie has attracted, to open guests’ minds to the large variety of healthy food we prepare, while at the same time giving them an insight into our extensive wine collection and how to pair wines with meals.”
The classes, which occasionally feature visiting chefs from overseas, such as Clay Conley (executive chef for Azul Restaurant at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Miami) and Ken Vedrinski, a 2010 James Beard Award Best Chef semifinalist and (owner/head chef at Trattoria Lucca, North Carolina). Always on hand to impart their wide-ranging knowledge and culinary skills are Brasserie mainstays: Executive Chef Brad Phillips and the James Beard-nominated Consulting Chef Dean Max (owner and head chef of 3030 Ocean Restaurant, Fort Lauderdale, Florida).
Each chef, while focusing on preparing one dish in the three-course menu with each course paired with wine, adds to the relaxed ambience with a twist on the classic format by adding a healthy measure of themselves. And with celebrity chefs so much the rage these days, its a recipe that’s winning plenty of converts to the Brasserie’s meticulously stocked kitchen.
“To run a busy kitchen, as we do here and Chef Dean does in Fort Lauderdale, takes a people person, as well as someone who genuinely adores creating memorable dishes… Our classes showcase both and are, we’re told, the reason why people are drawn back to a particular restaurant and to a particular class,” says Chef Brad.
Careful to make the classes a uniquely intimate experience, the sessions are limited to 12 people. “We wanted to maximise the experience for our visitors and encourage a healthy dose of group dynamics into the mix,” Kyle says.
As well as having enough room to sit comfortably in the Brasserie’s state-of-the-art kitchen, the small number of guests can settle in quickly and ask questions about the dishes being prepared right before their eyes.
“Executive Chef Brad Phillips and Consulting Chef Dean Max used to work together in the US and their rapport is undoubtedly a large part of what make the classes so popular,” said the general manager. “As well as being superb chefs, they finish off each others’ sentences and inject a lot of humour and bonhomie while demystifying the cooking process.”
While preparing a dish made with olive oil, for instance, and prompted by a guest’s question, one of the chefs during a recent Sunday class explained the different varieties of the oil and their uses in a way that clearly fascinated onlookers, many of whom weren’t aware that olive oil is enjoying the kind of connoisseurship once reserved for fine wines.
With each chef preparing a dish on the carefully balanced menu, guests have ample opportunity to tune into the different personalities and it’s this rapport-building, married with generously portioned and exquisitely prepared dishes that have proved to be such a winning combination.
Each chef also brings his own unique perspective to the fore.
“A chef like anyone else is shaped by his environment, and guests find it interesting to learn how our backgrounds have influenced us and what dishes we most enjoy preparing,” Chef Dean says.
In some ways a victim of its own success, the restaurant has already been approached by patrons eager for it to put on classes for private groups. “This is definitely something we would be keen on arranging,” says Kyle. “We’ve already had several people who went to the first one or two classes booking in advance for future sessions.”
A sure recipe for the classes’ continued success. WH
Each Brasserie Cooking Class Series class costs $75 plus gratuities ($86), which includes a welcome cocktail, three courses and wine.
Sunday, 24 October – 11am-1.30pm
Sunday, 21 November – 11am-1.30pm
Sunday, 5 December – 11am-1.30pm
For more information,
contact Kyle Kennedy at 945-1815.