Beyond the Cheddar Curtain– Mike Collins
By now, you’ve all seen at least one or one thousand cooking shows on TV. They’re fun — especially when you get to see the truly inventive and creative at work (Top Chef, I’m talking about you), but the problem is we never get to taste the food! It looks good, but for all we know, it could taste like an old shoe with a gorgonzola crumble and a sprinkle of oregano. Probably not, but I’m just sayin’.
However, at Savory Spoon Cooking School in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, you not only get to observe a master chef — the delightful Janice W. Thomas — but you get to work alongside her and her assistant while preparing her delicious recipes with your very own hands!
And let me tell you this: the results are divine.
We were part of a Door County Bike Tour group that visited the Cooking School on a rainy Tuesday morning. The class commenced at 11:00 a.m. and Chef Thomas explained to us what we would be cooking that day. She went over each course, and explained and demonstrated a few tips that we would use in the preparation of each dish.
About noon, our group of 10 split into five groups of two. My wife and I took the appetizer soup course: Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup. We picked this course mainly because we were standing nearest to its preparation table. What a nice choice this turned out to be! It required no actual cooking, but a lot of measuring, chopping, blending and preparing and the results were heavenly.
The other four groups split up and made the following (in the order they were served): Fennel and Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, Baked Salmon with Pistachios and Herbed Panko (one group) alongside Grilled Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic (another group), and for dessert Fresh Blueberry Raspberry Tart.
By 1 o’clock, the prep tables were cleared and a table was set. We finished the preparation of our chilled soup and the entire group sat down to enjoy lunch. Our soup, which we garnished only moments before, was then served to us nearly as though we were dining at the finest restaurant. Even though we only followed the Chef’s expert advice and recipe, it was hard not to let it go to our heads when we heard everybody taste our soup and say, “Wow! Is that ever good!”
This pretty much continued through the remaining courses where I equally enjoyed each and every one.
What a fun way to spend a day. I doubt I’ve ever had a better lunch and Chef Thomas was such a joy be around. The next time you are planning to be in Door County, be sure to look up the Savory Spoon Cooking School class schedule (on their website) and sign up for one if you can. It’s a ton of fun and your tastebuds will do back-flips!
I should also mention that the Savory Spoon is located in a restored school that was originally built in 1879. The floors in the building are original. Great credit is owed to the Savory Spoon owners for restoring this important Door County, Wisconsin landmark!