10
Apr
09

Celebrity cooking class # 6: Age of arousal

Now here’s a concept I can get behind. The Arts Club Theatre Company, a Vancouver non-profit, has been raising funds through what it calls Celebrity Cooking Classes. The idea is this: a chef from a high-profile and/or respected culinary institute or restaurant conducts a cooking class at a private residence. There are 20 chefs in 20 nights in 20 homes, which range from houses to lofts. Guests, who number from 12 to 20 depending on the size of the home, pay $125 a ticket—this includes interacting with the chef (and often helping make the meals), the three-course dinner itself, copious amounts of wine, and good company.

We attended class # 6, at a house in Shaughnessy, a well-off neighbourhood that would probably be a gated community if it was south of the border. But it’s not, so we were able to get past security without too much trouble.

Once there, we were met at the door by the affable Scott and Lisa, emissaries from the Arts Club. We had glasses of bubbly in our hands practically before we even had a chance to even take our coats off. The homeowners, who are in Palm Springs for three months, have an impressive collection of art, and—no surprise here—a very nice home (though it was distressingly cat-free) with a spacious kitchen. Tousle-haired Mario Armitano, co-owner of the Granville Island bakery La Baguette et L’Echalote, was hard at work, assisted by his smiling, spikey-haired sous-chef, Lynn.

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The appetizers were creamy, parmesan-filled pastries, and ratatouille in tiny buns. Seared scallops in a creamy red pepper sauce followed, and we were all invited to touch the scallop to see how a properly seared scallop should feel. The main course was duck, but as Mario described the process I lost track after about the third step (I think it was marinated, sauteed, cryo-vac’d, and baked—everything but buried underground overnight). The duck was sliced and served a top a cheesy spinach-tomato delight. The whole affair was capped by a plate of four cheeses and baked apple slices with a caramel sauce.

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Besides Scott and myself (and Mario, of course) the only other male in attendance was Stan, who (I believe) said he sits on the board of the Arts Club. Ironically, or maybe coincidentally, the company’s upcoming production, Age of Arousal, written by Linda Griffiths and directed by Katrina Dunn, is about a woman who runs a secretary school in post-World War I England, when women outnumber the men by a good 500,000, her lesbian lover, three spinsters and one guy; the ratio wasn’t much different at the dinner. Anyway, everyone was already hooked up. Single guys and gals, get on it! This is a great way to learn about food, meet people, and explore strangers’ medicine cabinets.

There are 13 Celebrity Cooking Classes left in Vancouver. For more information, go here.

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