Southwest Minnesota State University
Interactive Cajun and Creole Cooking Class
Friday, April 20, 2012
We began our event a day earlier with a sit-down planning session. We decided that each station would be assigned a student Sous Chef. This meant that each Sous Chef needed to have a COMPLETE understanding of the recipe since they were going to instruct the attendees as to what they had to cook and how to do it!
Our Menu for the night was:
Avocado Pirogues Topped with Lump Crabmeat
New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
New Potatoes Stuffed with Crabmeat
Delta Dilled Fried Catfish Fingers
Catfish Court Bouillon (Creole Sauce)
Smothered Mustard and Collard Greens with Bacon, Andouille and Tasso
Pain Perdu (Lost Bread or French Toast)
Lazy Ramos Gin Fizz
WE drew up a white board map of the kitchen areas along with which station was going to prepare what food item... The guests signed up for the menu item they wanted to prepare or cook; these went from easy to hard. The choice was completely up to them!!
BUT, I told them when it came time to serve their portion of the meal, they had to explain what dish they had prepared!!
The Avocado Pirogues with Crabmeat was going to be one of our first dishes served so I had to get their operations underway, they jumped into it with both hands!
The BBQ Shrimp team did an exceptional job!! They had to cook the shrimp perfectly while prepping 60+ plates!!
For appetizers we had teams prepare New Potatoes Stuffed with Crabmeat and a true New Orleans tradition - Mini Muffalettas
The Delta Dilled Catfish team probably had the hardest job, or at least the longest... As people were getting their appetizers and salads... everyone wanted to taste the catfish... WOW was that a HIT!! I had to explain that it was the South Mississippi farm raised catfish that makes the difference... No gammy flavor, of course the dill mustard in the batter was perfect!!
In South Louisiana, we use a Creole Sauce to rejuvenate yesterday's fried fish... Well our fried fish was fresh.... But I still wanted to instruct the guests on the flavors that are generated with a GREAT sauce.... The Delta Dilled Catfish team had a big task, because everyone kept picking at their fish before it could get smothered by the Court Bouillon!!
There was a team rendering the bacon, andouille and tasso to prepare the way for the smothered greens. Many people were skeptical trying a Southern dish like this.... I wasn't with those GREAT meats, it had to be fantastic... It was one of the biggest hits of the night!!
For our first dessert we served a true New Orleans favorite Pain Perdu (Lost Bread). That team did an excellent job of frying the breads... BUT several people told me that they were surprised by the tartness of the molasses... I guess it is a Southern flavor.
The second dessert again was a traditional New Orleans restaurant favorite, Crème Brulee. We had them double boil the batter, divide it into the ramekins, and poach them in the ovens. We had to remove them from the ovens, then chill them in the flash freezer. The team took turns on caramelizing them with a blow torch!
We had a New Orleans influenced bar with several flavors of Abita Beer, Ramos Gin Fizz, Peychaud Bitters to flavor the Zazarac Cocktails
The interactive guests did their cooking flawlessly!! They prepared everything, ate and drank in an hour and 45 minutes,,,, PERFECT!
This was an absolutely fabulous event!!!
At the end of the event the students were given a tremendous round of applause!! Each student introduced themselves and what were their culinary goals in life.
What an opportunity to teach and learn!
Thanks to Michael Cheng of SMSU for taking and supplying many of the above pics!!
Well, while I am up here let's cater a wedding! Really!
Contact us for further details....ChefEmile@CustomCatering.net
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Chef Emile L. Stieffel, Aurora Catering, Inc. email address: ChefEmile@CustomCatering.net
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