One of the biggest perks of being the editor of an NYC-based cooking website is getting to explore and write about the many food-related opportunities the city has to offer. Last night, I had one such opportunity to attend a Sur La Table cooking class with Talia of Bite Size Wellness. The class, “Mastering Seafood” was held at their Hell’s Kitchen store on West 57th Street and taught by former restaurant chef David Siegel.
While I had taken a formal lab course on basic cooking techniques during my time at NYU, this was the first time I was taking a leisure cooking class with people of all ages and skill levels. Talia and I took seats near the front and put on the aprons waiting on the back of our chairs. I thumbed through the packet we were given and was excited to see that, in addition to the recipes for the menu we’d seen online, Sur La Table had printed a simple guide to seafood selection, storage and preparation for future reference.
Chef Siegel opened the class by inviting the 16 attendees to divide into four groups and choose a station. Each was set up with all the necessary ingredients and equipment for our first dish, Seared Scallops with a Tarragon Butter Sauce. While Sur La Table offers a separate knife skills class, the chef demonstrated the proper way to chop shallots and, in for the next recipe, how to supreme (segment) a Meyer lemon and orange. Though my embarrassing failure of an attempt to peel my shallot wouldn’t indicate that I’d learned how to chop one in my lab last year, I did remember the technique Chef Siegel showed us: chop off the bottom tip of the shallot, cut it in half vertically (my lab instructor always said ‘cut through the poles, not around the equator’), and leaving the root intact, make small vertical incisions before chopping horizontally.
While the rest of the menu was absolutely delicious (Pan-Roasted Cod with Capers and Meyer Lemon, Bouillabaisse, and Grilled Salmon and Arugula Salad with Orange and Shaved Fennel), the scallops were by far my favorite dish. Though it may not have been the healthiest with almost a full stick of butter, it came together quickly and was relatively easy to prepare. A minor malfunction with our hot plate and grill pan resulted in slightly undercooked salmon and our cod filet stuck to the pan and flaked apart when flipped. The bouillabaisse was excellent, but there were a lot of ingredients involved (one of which is rare, expensive saffron), so it’s probably not something I’d make again on my own.
What I loved about this class was not only Chef Siegel’s expertise and the helpfulness and hospitality of the class assistants (we were offered complimentary refreshments and the staff was constantly ready to aid students when needed), but the wide range of cooking methods and practical culinary advice covered in the two-hour session. For $79.00, I certainly feel that we received our money’s worth in what we learned and ate. If you live near a participating location and have the resources to do so, I would highly recommend taking a class at Sur La Table. Though they’re offered almost every day of the week, the classes do fill up quickly, so look ahead at their calendar and reserve your seat today!
Click the photos below for each of the recipes:
Have you ever taken a cooking class? Tell us about your experience!