12:20 AM sians 0 Comments

as promised.

in my past entries, there are some snippets about bespoke cuisine's mix-it-up cooking party. last monday, i went for the cooking party with ryan, christina and her bf, lyle.

we planned to do it together since all of us either love to eat or cook food so it was perfect for us. also, it was featured as one of the deals on groupon last year where we pay $45 dollars/person instead of $60 (since it's more than a party of two).

what does bespoke means?

what it is, is essentially combining hands-on cooking experience, with a seated dinner (that we all prepared) in the dining room - no cleaning up whatsoever which is a plus! for the mix-it-up cooking parties, the menu is all planned out by the executive chef at bespoke and all i have to do is to make reservations a month or two in advance on which class i'd be interested to learn the cooking techniques for. the cuisines they offer ranges from italian, tuscan and thai food to backyard bbq and appetizers. the menu and dates for these parties are prefixed so we would know what to expect.

we all agreed upon the fish and seafood class. that's the class for me mainly cos i love love love seafood! since the event only starts at 6:30 pm, it was perfect cos it was right after work. what we had to do was to get there and then we would have to sign up with jeanie (co-owner of bespoke) on which dish from the menu we'd like to make. this class was slightly different because everyone had a chance to prepare our own entree, so we only had to choose either one of the appetizers, salad or dessert to make. the menu was interesting and definitely fun to make when i was emailed the confirmed menu. our menu was as follows:

appetizers| new england clam chowder sips & crab hush puppies with old bay-mustard sauce
salad| crab louis salad
entree| salmon papillote with baby potatoes, fennel & kalamata olives
dessert| individual warm-centered chocolate truffle cakes

when we got there to register, there were only a few spots left for the hush puppies and dessert and more spots for salad. so ryan and i decided to go with the hush puppies and christina and lyle went for the dessert. i'd prefer it if we were in the same group but it is first come first serve basis.

it starts with complimentary cheese platter with crackers and a glass of wine if you brought a bottle of wine (it's byob). we were seated at our table and greeted by the friendly executive chef/co-owner, kim shambrook. the private dining area was cozy and warm and tastefully decorated with candle lights on the dining tables.

the back half of the room was the kitchen where we were gonna have the cooking session as a group. soon after we were seated, chef shambrook kick started the event with an introduction of bespoke cuisine as well as the chefs who were gonna be our instructor for each dish. it was quite cute that each of them picked a fish nickname since it was a fish and seafood class. hehe.

we were then divided to our stations. the working space was pretty tight but it had decent amount of space between each groups. there were about six of us to the 'crab hush puppies with old bay-mustard sauce' group. our chef (chef trout) was a pretty cool dude and we started off by making the dipping sauce for the hush puppies. it was really just mixing a whole bunch of ingredients and then popping it into the fridge. (p.s. not many pics cos i didn't think it was very hygenic to take pictures as we cooked lol)

then it was making the batter for the hush puppies. the blue crab meat we used looked extremely yummy and i almost wanted to pop one into my mouth if it was not the other participants working on flaking the crab meat into thinner pieces. once the mixture of batter combined with the crab meat was complete, it was time to make the hush puppies/fritters!

the oil was heated up to about 300-350F in a cast iron pot (which i have! :D). ryan and i got volunteered into being the first ones to make those fritters with small ice cream scoops and dropping it into the hot oil. we didn't drop too many into the oil because the temperature of the oil would drop and that will be no good. then we essentially took turns to drop these bad boys in and finish up our dish. it was so easy to make.

oo those fritters were fried to perfection. yum-o! the only thing i didn't really like was that the different groups were sharing one stove area so the section became really tight and was potentially a safety hazard. anyway, as the other two team members were working on the hush puppies, four ppl from our team then took the opportunity to work on our entree first (since we had to rotate through everyone).

to make the papillote, it was essentially taking a parchment paper, stacking some blanched sliced fennel, carrots and baby potatoes, a fillet of himalayan-salt-and-pepper-seasoned salmon and finally topped with a slice of lemon, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes and a sprig of dill, then wrapping them into a parchment parcel. (oo.. see the pouch i made? second row, bottom right photo!) it was so easy and pretty fun to make! apparently we could even make this a day in advance, freeze it and then when it's time to cook, we defrost it and bake it.

since most of us were done with the stuff we were supposed to make, we just walked around the kitchen to see what others were doing and took some photos for fun :)

once most of everything was done, we were then able to try out our own cooking. yes, we actually eat everyone else's creations too. the first thing they served around the kitchen were the clam chowder sips.

it was actually pretty hard to sip from those glasses so christina came up with the brilliant idea and brought us some tasting spoons to make tasting the soups a lil easier. the soup tasted alright - "too much herb", ryan and lyle commented and i thought the bacon taste was overpowering the other flavors. they apparently served hush puppies too but ryan and i didn't get any. thank goodness for us, we saw there were still a few of them frying in the pan so we told our chef pal to save us some since we haven't had any. he told us he's got us covered. lol.

it was then time to get back to our tables and we were served our salad course. i have to say it was probably my favorite dish of the day. the crab meat that was served with the salad of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avacado and egg was sweet and yummy. simply fantastic! i couldn't get enough of it that i even sneaked a bite from ryan's plate without him knowing. lol.

our chef pal wasn't joking when he said he got us covered. he came with a plate of six hush puppies to share with the table. i am proud to say that the hush puppies that we made were amazing. crunchy on the outside and seasoned well. yum!

next came the entree. we weren't lucky enough to get the parcels that we made ourselves except for ryan. lol. he was pretty sure that the one he got was the one he made. it tasted okay but needs more seasoning. and i particularly liked the cooked fennel (i've had raw fennel but not cooked) and the burst of flavor from the tomatoes.

we then end our meal with dessert that lyle and christina helped bake, chocolate cake with gooey ganache in the middle which was served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. it was a great way to end the meal although at this point i was already very much stuffed.

i actually wanted to take a picture with chef trout but i was too shy to ask so i just pushed the idea aside. christina suddenly asked the chef when he came by to pick up our plates which he agreed to but he was so busy that we end up not taking one. oh well...

bespoke cuisine's mix-it-up cooking party was fabulous. it was so much fun learning how to cook and hanging out with friends in a different setting, and at the end of the day enjoying our hard work in a private cozy dining area. it would definitely be more enjoyable if we had more friends joining us and if we were making a dish together as a group :) all this great fun, personal instruction with friendly chefs, yummy dinner and new recipes, all for $45 with the groupon deal of course.

would i do this a second time? hell yeah! :D can't wait till groupon comes up with a new bespoke cuisine deal.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.