Monday, March 08, 2010

Santa Fe School of Cooking

Chef Danny Cohen Santa Fe School of Cooking
I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to attend a "bonus" class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. The School is a 20-year fixture in Santa Fe, and its bonus classes, aimed at the locals, are test classes where the School and its chefs have an opportunity to try out new themes and ideas, and practice for the more formal (and more expensive!) classes come tourist season.

This was the third such class I've attended in the last couple of years--the first was a southwestern-themed brunch, and the second was a class featuring foods appropriate (by theme and portability) for tailgating at upcoming summer operas.

Our recent class featured four different kinds of chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles): cream cheese stuffed jalapeƱos in escabeche, New Mexican tempura rellenos, ancho chile rellenos, and chiles en nogada.

The last was my favorite. It featured a stuffing that included ground pork, garlic and onion, tomato puree, apples, peaches, plantains, dried apricots, raisins, and almonds. And as if that weren't enough, it was accompanied by a sauce made from pecans, almonds, queso fresco (or feta cheese), half and half, and sherry. The chiles were stuffed, lightly battered, fried, dipped in sauce, and topped with pomegranate seeds. Scrumptious!

Santa Fe School of Cooking Chiles Rellenos
Our chef for the day was Danny Cohen, ably assisted by Noe Cano.

Danny Cohen and Noe CanoAnd "class" is really not the right word for this experience--it's really a demonstration. The chef (who also teaches culinary classes at Santa Fe Community College) kept up an engaging patter while he cooked, and we could all see what he was doing in the reflection of the overhead mirror.

Mirror observation Santa Fe School of CookingWe students drank coffee and wine, took notes, and ate--a very easy assigment!

I even learned a couple of new cooking facts/tips. For example, fresh jalapeƱos become chipotles when dried, and poblanos become anchos. And Chef Danny prefers the use of grapeseed oil for cooking (as opposed to canola oil), with olive oil only used to finish.

They do also offer hands-on classes, restaurant walks featuring private chef meetings and tastings in some of the best restaurants in Santa Fe, an onsite market for Southwestern foods and cooking tools, and one or two day team building seminars centered around the experience of cooking and eating together.

I highly recommend the Santa Fe School of Cooking, in spite of the steep price-tag ($70 and up for most classes). Visit in February and enjoy a "bonus" class!

Photo Credits

All photos in this post were taken by my friend and fellow student Linda McIlroy.