Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EDGE Steak & Bar Pop-Up Cooking Classes Series with Chef Aaron Brooks

Do you have a special someone to impress? Or do you just want to spend a fun afternoon in a Five-Star hotel, sipping delicious spirits and eating outstanding cuisine; while picking up some cooking tips from a celebrated chef? Well then, have I got the answer for you!  Let me introduce you to the EDGE Steak & Bar Pop-Up Cooking Classes Series with Executive Chef Aaron Brooks and his amazing team. Popping up in different areas throughout the Four Seasons Hotel in Brickell, these interactive monthly cooking classes will feature everything from a gourmet full-course meal to a crack at creating an impressive Sunday Brunch.

Pastry Chef Sarah Thompson, Executive Chef Aaron Brooks
and Sous Chef Jose Gamez

Chef Brooks prepping us
Communal Table on the
gorgeous terrace
The first class of 2013 took place this past Saturday, March 23rd, starting in the beautiful terrace of the hotel. The theme was learning how to create one of Chef Aaron Brook's typical dinners, showcasing his signature Sunday Roast. The three course menu consisted of Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Key West Pink Shrimp, Chef Aaron's Porchetta with Warm Salad of Roasted Butternut Squash and Local Greens, topped with a savory homemade Pickled Red Pepper Salsa, and Pastry Chef Sarah Thompson's Classic Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Cream and Caramel Sauce.

Don't Ask Don't Tell
Great begining
As each of us arrived, we were greeted with a refreshing Welcome Cocktail: Don't Ask Don't Tell. Sounds like a drink you'd find in Vegas, right? It's actually a sweet concoction of redberry vodka, Creme de Casis liquor and sparkling wine, with fresh muddled blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Get the picture? Heaven in a glass. Just like the first day of class in any school setting, we all chatted and got to know each other a bit while pairing our luscious cocktail with a charcuterie of cheeses, cured meats, vegetables and pates, all served up with EDGE's signature bread and butter.

Chef Brooks pointing out the
different herbs in the garden
Picking away
After a bit of background on the dishes we were going to help prepare, Chef Brooks walked us over to the restaurant's very own garden, where herbs and spices are grown. He talked to us about each of the herbs and told us which to pick for our meal. We got busy and munched on a few as we clipped away. Once we had collected enough, we gathered over at the cooking table, where we each had a knife, a cutting board, a linen napkin and a glass of wine (of utmost importance to the session).

Concentrating on the task at hand

The first of two
I can still taste that
delectable gazpacho
Chef Brooks introduced us to the preparation of our first course, the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Key West Pink Shrimp, by explaining how using fresh ingredients and spices kicks up the flavor of foods. We sliced some heirloom tomatoes and chopped the cilantro we picked from the garden. The chef added diced shrimp and sherry vinegar along with a few other spices, and mixed it all in his high-powered Vita Mix. The result was a creamy, cooling gazpacho that made you pucker your lips in joy. So much so, that I had seconds.

Chef Brooks adding more herbs and spices to the pork

Expertly rolling it up
Finishing off the salsa
Next up, we got to work on the second course, Chef Brooks' signature Porchetta. This was one impressive dish! A scrumptious pork belly was dried out and wrapped around a juicy pork loin, which had been brined overnight in a fusion of flavorful herbs and spices. Chef Brooks explained that allowing the pork belly to dry out would ultimately create the delicious, crispy skin most of us tend to fight each other for at the dinner table.

So many colors and flavors
The moment is almost here
Before rolling up and tying the beautiful hunk of meat together, he added a layer of the remaining aromatic ingredients to take things up a notch. While he did this, we chopped up the peppers for the Pickled Red Pepper Salsa and thinly sliced the Butternut Squash for the Warm Salad. Sous Chef Jose Gamez, stepped in and taught us how to pickle the peppers and roast the squash to complete the dish. Can you say this ten times? How many peppers did the fabulous foodies pickle if the fabulous foodies could pickle peppers? Needless to say, there was silence around the table (except for a few deep sighs) as we indulged in this extraordinary course.

Voila! Not bad for first timers (Of course we had a tad bit
of expert help)

Pastry Chef Sarah Thompson giving
 us some excellent pointers
Sous Chef Jose Gamez peeling the
apples with Chef Thompson
On a roll, and I don't mean that because we all might have been a bit rounder at this point than when we got here, we got ready to begin our third course, Apple Cobbler with Warm Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Cream. Pastry Chef Sarah Thompson grew up eating this dessert in her family home since it was one of her grandmother's most popular recipes. As a matter of fact, her family still enjoys eating it for breakfast.

That looks so good!
Sweet and salty ending to an
unforgettable experience
Chef Thompson showed us how to make the crumble for the cobbler using all purpose flour and sliced almonds. She likes to add a dash of sea salt to the topping to give the palate a surprise sweet and salty treat. As we cut the granny apples, Chef Thompson prepared the biscuits and gave us a wealth of tips to follow when we tried the dessert at home. For example, we should fight the urge to mix the dough with our hands because the body heat actually melts the butter and changes the consistency of the dough; resulting in a loss of flakiness to the biscuits. Who knew? Once the masterpiece was complete, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor in ways too sinful to the palate to even discuss.

Behold the First Graduating Class of 2013

Swag from EDGE
Check out the upcoming
cooking classes
The afternoon wasn't just amazing  because of the mouthwatering food and drinks but because the chefs made the presentation interesting and entertaining in the beautiful setting that is the Four Seasons. The two hour cooking class flew, and when it was over, I wondered where the time went. To remember the moment, and bring it home, participants receive a take-home gift bag full of goodies. Woo-Hoo! The next cooking class is happening on Saturday, April 20th, from 2:00-4:00 pm and it's titled Florida's Finest Catch. Imagine sipping champagne while shucking oysters and learning to prepare EDGE's signature tartars. I can't wait. For more information, you can call the restaurant at 305-381-3190 or visit them online at http://www.edgerestaurantmiami.com.

1 comment:

  1. The food at Edge is more than delicious, it is scrumptious. In addition, the pop-up cooking classes are worth attending, me and my friends have enjoyed many of them.