Friday, July 31, 2009

Chef Oliver Friendly - Eat and Smile Foods

Several months ago J and I attended a couples cooking class through L'Academie de Cuisine. The class was led by alumnus Chef Oliver Friendly who proved to be highly skilled, personable, educational, and entertaining - as we described here.

Chef Friendly has spent time in the kitchens of PS7's and Hook, but has since chosen to run his own catering and cooking class company called Eat & Smile Foods. Among the services offered is a group cooking class where Chef Friendly arrives at your door with all the ingredients and equipment needed to teach and create a wonderful dinner. Recently we assembled 8 people at a friend's condo to eat, smile, and learn a little something about food.

Chef Friendly's culinary perspective combines formal French technique with local and organic foods. One of his favorite philosophies seems to be to "get out of the ingredient's way" and this can be tasted easily in his meals. They tend to be simple and use only a handful of ingredients, but celebrate each of the fresh flavors as individual elements combined harmoniously.

As described before, Chef Friendly's talent extends far beyond the kitchen. He is personable and engaging and was a perfect fit for our interested, yet novice crowd. Not only does it make for an atypical and fun night, he is also a tremendously good deal. Chef Friendly does the planning and the shopping (almost entirely at , comes to your door with everything that's needed, cooks and teaches for 2+ hours, and then cleans up and leaves you to a enjoy a wonderful dessert. At L'Academie, and probably any other top notch cooking school, this will cost you and 24 perfect strangers around $75 per person. Do it in your own kitchen with 6-10 of your friends and family through Eat & Smile Foods and it'll cost you $50 per person. Sign us up!

J Says

Before we met Chef Friendly, the words "cooking class" frightened me. I didn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen growing up and my "culinary point of view" is a work in progress (can you tell we watch our share of the Next Food Network Star?)

That said, Chef Friendly creates such a comfortable atmosphere that he makes me want to learn more about cooking and he has inspired me to eat locally as much as possible. In addition to learning a few skills, I got to enjoy an excellent meal.

We started off with a salad of baby greens, camembert cheese, pine nuts, and a homemade dressing.

The main event was a flank steak with a fresh tomato chutney served with a white corn/mint medley. Chef Friendly picked three types of tomatoes from his own backyard and they were fantastic (and I don't even like tomatoes!). The flank steak was cooked to perfection and the corn was packed full of flavor.

Dessert consisted of fresh peaches cooked with caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream. So good! The best part? Everything he did was easy enough that I really feel confident that I can do it too. While I'm far from appearing on the next Top Chef episode, thanks to Chef Friendly I feel much more comfortable picking up a knife (and holding it correctly) and tackling a new recipe.


Anonymous said...

You two hit it on the head - the night was a big, delicious success! The only thing that you forgot to mention was my incredible knife skills - oh yes, Friendly encourages group participation!


Amy said...

J and B have taken multiple cooking classes with Oliver Friendly.

Alix said...

You guys need to take some more cooking classes. Just kidding!