This last week I had the great pleasure of bringing Jason Wang and Gabriel Lewis, former fellow contestants on Season 8 of MasterChef and close compadres, to Fort Worth for two cooking classes, one in the art of making pasta and the other in steak preparations. What an adventure it was!!
I’m often heard using the word “dichotomy” when speaking of food, especially the description of “Texas Style” chow, the best example of that definition is the three of of us working in the kitchen together, this is three different styles, tastes, educations and geography.
Jason lives in the Boston area in a very nice community with an awesome name, Newton, Mass, while Gabriel comes from the neighboring state Oklahoma, in the city of the same name, and then myself from the little burgeoning city of Lipan. Our style of food ranges from the Far East, Deep South and the True West with a touch of French in all of it.
Jason is an enigma within himself. He’s a music teacher and opera singer who speaks five languages, with a vast knowledge of food and the sciences that go with it, so his passion is food. Jason steps into a kitchen with the coolness of Frank Sinatra in Vegas, baby! There is this air of confidence, yet humbled attitude that creates dishes with so many influences, flavor levels and unique ingredients that leave you peaking, sneaking and tweaking for a taste. His food is of Asian style, yet kicks in with the obscurity of French styling and plating. It always leaves you clamoring for more and the question of “What’s next?”
Now Gabriel, the Young’un, who was on the show just after turning 19 years old, has this driven passion for food that utterly amazed me for such a young man to crave the knowledge, passion and skills rarely seen in much more mature cooks. Gabe came to show while being an employee at Chipotle’s for many years and is currently is in his final year at Johnson and Wales in Denver, Colo. with the assistance and gift of Gordon Ramsay, who had so much faith in him that he wanted to support his future growth. So you Coloradans better eat him up, no pun intended, while you can for this next year! Gabe, as we call him, his food styling is on the more modern or nouveau styling incorporating the modern sciences while still staying true to his indigenous humbled up-bringing. He will make you a steak, however unlike me, it will be in a warmed water bath, aka known as Sous Vide. Now let’s understand, his knowledge is an incredible, voracious aptitude for cuisine. My question is, what have you learned and let’s, no you, make it!
Then myself, heck you already know my style if you want to use that verbiage! It’s Texas Style that incorporates the “dichotomy” (there’s that word again) of Texas cuisine and the influences that surround our bountiful heritage and people. Heck, in Texas we have Barbecue, Chili, Vietnamese, Czech, German, French, Spanish, Indian (both type) and another one of our own creation “Tex-Mex”. I like to take a Texas Favorite and add a little French influence or vice versa!
Many weeks ago Gabe, Reba and I had a Burger Feast in Granbury and were asking what we were going to do next. Gabe spoke up and said that he had some good success with cooking classes, so we should do a cooking class and bring in Jason. So after weeks of trying to coordinate schedules, holy schnikees what a puzzle, we came up with the last weekend in July and we did two classes, Pasta and Steak, with three different preparations.
Jadon did two cold noodle salads with Asian influences and Beef Tataki. Gabe demonstrated the making of fresh pasta dough, as well as a simple lemon caper butter sauce over spaghetti. Sounds simple, but wow! His steak was Sous Vide with fondant potatoes and a chipotle corn purée sauce. Mine was a hearty papardelle pasta with a three meat bolognese, and my steak was the ever-demanded cast iron pan seared arocet with butter, garlic and rosemary with my red onion/jalapeño marmalade.
We were very fortunate to have the classes at The Kitchen Source in Fort Worth. Thank you, thank you, and thank you ladies for putting up with us!
The morning class was Pasta and smaller than we expected, however that was A-OK! Because of the techniques and class participation, it went longer than expected, whew. The reviews and results were overwhelmingly positive!
The evening class of Steak had a very nice attendance, and being the students could bring their own libations, turned into a food sciences party with great class participation! Again, the reviews and results were all positive, however the kitchen cleanup was a chore. Well, you've got to take the bad with the good, I suppose. Again, well worth it, and we look forward to doing it again!
Special thanks to my lovely wife, whom behind the scenes does all the location scouting, notifications, web page, etc, which I call the “behind the scenes misen place”; to John Aguilera, Sous Chef and all round bad ass; to all that stuck around to help clean up; to Paul Caraway for the soon to be released videos; and especially to the ladies of Kitchen Source, Jenn & Amber and their lovely crew, who tolerated three compadres and opened their BADASS faculties for a private event and cooking classes, we can’t thank you enough!! BTW, if you want a BADASS kitchen, Kitchen Source has got it!!!!
If I had to choose the best thing that came of my MasterChef experience, I would have to say it's the new family that came with it, my MasterChef family.
Please keep an eye out for future demonstrations, dinners, pop ups, and guest appearances. Stay tuned, and thank you for your continued and growing support!