Here’s the scenario: You’re sitting at a table with some great people. Some of them you know and others you’re getting a chance to know. Big flat screen monitors are broadcasting a crystal clear picture of what’s going on at the hands of a very creative chef and the smells — ahh, the smell of garlic, tomatoes, onions and herbs are making me feel like I’m some place I’ve never been. Somewhere in Europe — sadly, a place I’ve never been.
But back to my scenario: Standing right in front of me with a cute smile and a denim chef’s coat is none other than Virginia Willis, the Atlanta culinary phenom. She’s taught cooking all over the world, she ran Martha Stewart’s kitchen for a few years. She produced the TV show, Epicurious, and she’s whipping out 5 heavenly “Mother Sauces” right before my eyes.
This is what I experienced night before last at The Village Kitchen in Midtown, Columbus. The small culinary education venue is a great place to go to learn those skills you’ve been thinking about but just don’t quite have in your cooking quiver. At my table were Molly and Ritchie White (shown in the picture with Virginia Willis), Celia Page, Carolyn Hutcheson, of Suwanee, Ga. and Jenny Holder. We had a very nice time sipping wine provided by Sommelier Faye Simmons of Meritage Cafe and we got to taste some bodacious food.
These 5 mother sauces are the basis of nearly every sauce that comes from a traditional French kitchen. They are sauce tomate, hollandaise, brown, veloute and bechamel. Some are more difficult than others. In fact, our incredible guest chef’s blender Hollandaise sauce broke. The Hollandaise recipe is an emulsion of egg yolks and fat that can be difficult to prepare even for a professional chef. But, I’m happy to report that she reloaded and produced a mouth-watering second batch that we tasted spooned over roasted asparagus.
Here’s the point of all this: The Village Kitchen has Food Network-level guest chefs in town all the time. If you are a Food Network junkie like I know many of you are, check out this website to see all the great culinary instruction that is available right here at home: http://thevillagekitchencom.blogspot.com/
I left there with a couple of new friends, with whom I immediately hooked up on Facebook, and a stack of great recipes to try at home. Thanks to The Village Kitchen Director Susan Gilliam, Executive Chef Maurice Martin and Pastry Chef Tara Van Etten who assisted Virginia Willis in making our evening informative and very special.