Thursday, February 17, 2011

Four Seasons Hotel Boston Cooking Class

Chef Vosika
No matter how many books I read, shows I watch, or questions I ask of friends, I am always ecstatic to learn more about food.  So when I received an email inviting me to partake in a cooking course at The Four Seasons in Boston, well I leaped at it.  Being in a kitchen, a professional one at that, surrounded by people as obsessed with food as I am- there is just nothing better in my mind. 

We met last evening at the base of the grand staircase in the Four Seasons, and were soon led up the stairs and into the space which once held the highly regarded, now much grieved Aujourd'hui.  Closed during the peak of our recent financial recession, I have often lamented the fact that I never had the opportunity to dine there before its demise.  Walking through it's space, the name still hung proudly next to the door, I was thrilled to be there.  We were led through the restaurant, and into the adjoining kitchen.  Here, of course, is where my inner food dork really started to take over.  There is something so wonderful about the stainless steel sterile environment that is so wonderful to me-esp as it becomes littered (neatly of course) with vegetables, proteins, herbs, spices, eggs....the vibrancy of the colors just pops within the walls of a professional kitchen.  

Bay Scallop Chowder coming together, watchful students observe
Executive Chef Brooke Vosika greeted us and began our journey of learning some of his prized recipes, namely Bay Scallop Chowder, and Chicken and Truffle Dumplings.  Executive Pastry Chef Tim Fonseca also joined us to show us his Warm Chocolate Cake, as well as his tricks for Fruit Crisps.  Hearing the menu, I knew we were in for an incredibly bounty of knowledge, as well as some incredibly tasty eats. 

Bay Scallop Chowder, garnished with chives
Learn we did.  Chef Vosika spent some time chatting with us about his own career and the path that brought him to us here in Boston, and also spent some time stimulating our minds delving into our impressions of what food really IS in the US- what it encompasses and what types or items our minds first jump to when presented with the idea.  It was a really interesting discussion of broad images, IE Melting Pot, menagerie, etc, to more specific items attributed to areas- fusion on the west coast, boiled dinners here in the North East, Tex Mex etc.  This all occurred as he cleaned scallops and readied them for his Bay Scallop Chowder.  Then he lead us to the stove, and the magic began-starting with a roux, adding the mire poix, bay leaves, thyme, cream, lemon juice etc- and his special ingredient- Gin.  Fashioned after the Gin and Tonics so popular on Nantucket in the summer months, Chef Vosika brings in the juniper flavor for a real twist on the traditional chowders.  The result was beyond lovely.  The gin was subtle, but when combined with the bright lemon flavor, and the wonderful thyme it was a wonderful taste, unique and special.  This chowder, in Crab version, is available on the Bristol Lounge menu- definitely check it out next time you're there.

Chef shows Megan from Delicious Dishings chicken prep
While we enjoyed our chowder, the class continued on to start the simple, yet delicious and comforting dish of Chicken and Dumplings, not a soup, but just beautiful pieces of chicken, broken down right in front of us, added to clean simple flavors, seared and then baked later topped with fragrant, fluffy truffle dumplings.  Chicken and Dumplings doesn't sound like anything special, that much I know.  It's base is peasant food, nothing complex, nothing crazy, but when done correctly it is perfection.  Hearty pieces of chicken, rich with the flavors of onion, carrot, wine and herbs, enhanced with hearty dumplings that were made a little more chic with truffle oil.  A dish that takes under and hour to prepare, but can be served with pride to your best guests.  I will be making this soon, Ill post the full recipe then.

Next we moved on to dessert, beautiful Warm Chocolate Cake, again- simple ingredients, but mixed together, and treated with respect into a beautiful molten cake. The beauty of a molten cake is the wonder of the gooey inside gushing forth when the external cake is broken open. It is like lava pouring forth, and the result is one of the most decadent desserts.  Again, this was not a particularly complex recipe, stir together the ingredients with care, melt chocolate under a watchful eye, and perhaps with indirect heat to keep it from burning, and then just under bake the cakes-serve with a palate cleansing sauce- think raspberries- and perhaps some ice cream and dessert is complete. 

Throughout our evening in the kitchen we were treated to quite a few decadent bites as well- many from the bar menu at the Bristol Lounge.  The round of Buffalo Brussel Sprouts served with a Blue Cheese dipping sauce were an immediate hit.  The wonderful flavors of buffalo sauce, together with the earthy wonderfulness that are brussel sprouts made this a perfect appetizer.  Later we were presented with crispy seared pork belly, seasoned with what appeared to be a combination of soy and hoison sauce, sweet and salty, and sitting atop potato cakes which provided magnificent texture.  Finally, after allowing us to view the room in which they dry age their steaks (name another restaurant in Boston who dry ages their own steaks in house), we were treated to slices of their steak which we agreed, are the best in town.  We were also served a Bearnaise Sauce and  Sauce Diane for our steak- and the Bearnaise was by far the best I've ever had.  Usually I can pass up Bearnaise as I realise that its extremely high in calories and normally it just isn't worth it- at the Four Seasons, it is beyond worth it. 

Buffalo Brussel Sprouts

Pork Belly-wonderful Pork Belly

Dry aging at its best

A perfect steak

The class that I was invited to attend last night was created for local bloggers, and it was incredible.  The beauty though?  These classes are available and open to the public!  So if you would like to join Chef Vosika and his team and learn some tricks of the trade, and enjoy an amazing meal at the same time (complete with some pretty wonderful wine pairings) check out the list below and sign up!

Four Seasons Hotel Boston Cooking Classes

All cooking classes are guided by Executive Chef Brooke Vosika and include hands-on instruction, demonstrations, food, drink…and fun! Dress is casual attire, and aprons and gift bags (including recipe cards) will be provided.

• Cost: $140 per person.

• Location: Aujourd’hui Kitchen (Hotel’s 2nd floor)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Your culinary journey through Italy starts with house made ricotta and mushroom ravioli. You’ll then cook up mouth-watering orchietti with sweet peas, roasted peppers, basil and parmesan, followed by classic fettuccine alfredo. Chef Vosika may even divulge his secret bread recipe, to accompany the meal.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If you like to entertain or have an adventurous streak, this is the class for you! Learn the secrets to making delicious, homemade rolls – and master just right sushi rice. Also discover surprisingly simple ingredient-slicing techniques...and of course, sip sake as you go!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your culinary journey through Italy starts with house made ricotta and mushroom ravioli. You’ll then cook up mouth-watering orchietti with sweet peas, roasted peppers, basil and parmesan, followed by classic fettuccine alfredo. Chef Vosika may even divulge his secret bread recipe, to accompany the meal.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just in time for the 4th of July, learn to grill like the pros. Meats, corn on the cob, you name it…the grill and your taste buds will sizzle as you prepare all your summertime favorites! Under Chef Vosika’s tutelage, you will create savory marinades and rubs from scratch, in addition to the very best home-style side dish accompaniments."

Please contact to register for a class!


Megan said...

This class was so much fun! I actually went to Aujourd'hui once for brunch... it was amazing!

Daisy said...

so bummed I had to bail. But happy to have all these great recaps to read! What a fun event.

The Boston Foodie said...

Another great night of food and fun in Boston.

The Boston Foodie said...

One of the best food nights I've had in Boston.

Aimee said...

This was so fun - and so delicious! I am seriously tempted to take the pasta class. I can only imagine how full I would be after that one.

Full and deleriously content... :)

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Love your pictures...great recap of a very fun evening!

Jen said...

Looks like such a great evening of fun and learning!


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