Cook Au Vin: French Cooking Class
I’m kinda addicted to Gilt City. I get sucked into buying “deals,” and inevitably, end up scrambling to use them before the expiration date. Take for example, the “French cooking class for two” at Cook Au Vin in Bucktown, which I purchased last fall. Full disclosure, I selected it thinking that it would be a fun date activity, but let’s just say I didn’t meet the right guy to bring to such a class. No worries – I’m never at a loss for fun friends I want to hang out with, so I asked Tamara if she’d be my date, and she kindly obliged. And we had a blast!
We were greeted by Chef Benoit who was very welcoming and friendly, and invited us to dive in to the spread of fresh bread and cheeses. It was also BYOB, so we also enjoyed some of the wine and champagne that Tamara generously brought along. I knew it was going to be a fun class when I saw just how many bottles our classmates had brought; definitely made for a lively and enthusiastic class!
Once we had our aprons and hats, we spent the next several hours preparing a decadent 4-course French meal, under the guidance of Chef Benoit, who has over 25 years of French culinary experience. It worked out perfectly as everyone gravitated naturally towards certain tasks based upon their skill set.
Our class was to prepare the Cotillion Menu, which consisted of Rouleau de Saumon a la farce de poire, Tournedeau de dinde sauce Diane, Sweet potato and butternut squash au gratin, and Baked Alaska. Tamara and I were first tasked with chopping veggies and pears. Followed with the more difficult tasks of separating eggs and preparing the smoked salmon rolls (pardon me, Rouleau de Saumon). There was a fine art to that technique that we may or may not have mastered. However, we did master the fine art of JAZZ HANDS!
I’m not saying that we were the best chefs in the class, but I think it’s fair to say we were the most entertaining! I really think we lucked out with a fun group. Everyone was really friendly and fun to hang out with. Lots of laughing amidst all the cooking. That’s the secret to great food!
Although everyone worked on different components of the dishes, working at one large table allowed us to see what was going on in the other stations, and how each dish came together. As it was, the class took 4 hours, so it wouldn’t have been feasible for each person to prepare the entire meal on their own. Great teamwork and bonding! Nothing brings people together like a shared meal.
And it was a feast!
Everything made that evening was absolutely delicious, and it was all enjoyed while sitting at a long communal table with our new cooking class pals. I may be biased but I will say that we were sitting on the more fun/raucous side of the table! My favorite dishes of the evening were the Butternut Squash and the Baked Alaska, which naturally, we had very little involvement in making! The squash was a nice twist on potato au gratin, and while I’m not a huge merengue fan, the presentation of the dessert was impressive.
A few days after the class, we received the recipes for each dish via email so we could recreate them at home. As someone who has been known to eat cereal for dinner, I don’t think I’ll be spending 4 hours to prepare this menu on a random night. However, Tamara and I did essentially invite everyone in the class to “Friendsgiving,” proclaiming that we would recreate this meal on our own, so we basically have to figure out how to master these creations before November!
If you live in the Chicago area and want to try your hand at French cooking (or want a fun date night activity) stop by Cook Au Vin. The voucher/class was paid for on my own and I did not recieve any compensation for this post; I just really enjoyed the class!