This week’s post comes from the field, the heavily paved field that is North Miami where I’m spending the day with some of my favorite people, culinary students at Johnson & Wales University (JWU). I’ve been speaking to classes about our upcoming Interactive Dinner at the J. W. Marriott Marquis Miami on March 11. The Spring Edition: Interactive Dinner, where guests (600 of you!) cook their own dinner tutored by six of Miami’s rising star chefs, is an event that fills the gap in the calendar created with this year’s move of VeritageMiami from April to October.
I’ve been explaining the dinner to students as part of my recruitment drive to round up a gang of these young culinarians to act as sous chefs assisting our guests (you!) in this amazing and only slightly chaotic dinner. I am becoming increasingly enthused about the event as I share the evening’s plan to these professional chefs in the making. My experience over the past several years with the culinary students is that the event starts out as an academic exercise for them and ends up one of the most memorable evenings of the year as they not only network with our guest chefs but make some strong bonds with our guests. I tell them they will have a great time and they nod, knowing that is possible, and invariably they call me after an interactive event to say it was even more fun than they imagined.
If you join us, it will be fun for you as well. Imagine, cooking alongside six terrific and passionate chefs, learning new recipes and tricks of the trade with an enthusiastic student at your side. And there will be good food on hand! Chefs Nicole Votano (DIRT) and Julia Ning (Phuc Yea) are making (or, more properly, tutoring our guests in making) a shaved vegetable salad with dumplings filled with veal cheek and foie gras. Then chefs Justin Flit (Proof Pizza and Pasta) and Brian Nasajon (Beaker & Gray) are making a dish with fresh pasta (Justin is going to crank out more than a hundred pounds of gemelli the morning before the dinner) and a rich mushroom sauce, and following are chefs Brad Kilgore (Alter) and Alex Chang (Vagabond Restaurant and Bar), combining their talents to help guests create a pan-seared pork belly glazed with umeboshi (a salted plum) and a purée of turnips and ajo blanco.
Sound intriguing? It’s intriguing and exciting, a great opportunity to create new dishes with new and old friends. My student friends at JWU have been signing up on the volunteer list all day, determined to help coach our guests in this culinary adventure, this meeting of generations over a hot plate and a sauté pan. I can’t wait to get started, and I hope you’ll join us. To get tickets, just head to our Spring Edition: Interactive Dinner web page, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.