This past Saturday at the beautiful Lake Austin Spa and Resort, I had the opportunity to conduct my first (hopefully not my last) cooking demonstration for the guests at the resort. The prospect of being the center of attention and explaining myself verbally while cooking was a little daunting, but all went well and I'm pleased to say it was a success.
The most challenging aspect of a cooking demo, from a chef's perspective, is that cooking for service and cooking for a demo are quite different animals. Dinner service is a hectic, exhausting and exhilarating span of several hours with few questions, and certainly no explanation required. Demonstration cooking is quite the opposite. The pace is much slower, the questions are endless, and every action requires thoughtful illumination. While many cooks prefer the back of the house for its limited interactivity with guests, demonstration cooking requires, at least temporarily, a modicum of sociability and even some charm and humor. Considering the current trend in our industry of chefs as brands and even empires, the cooking demonstration is a requisite skill for anyone who dreams of their 'own place.'
Given a relatively short time period, 45 minutes, I went with two light, summer dishes that, in my mind at least, are easily executable by the home cook.
Guatemalan Style Apples
4-5 apples, cored and sliced (Braeburn, Gala, or Cameo work best)
2 T. lime juice
As Needed, ground Black Pepper
Toss apples in lime juice.
Arrange on a platter/plate to serve.
Top with ground black pepper.
Seared Tuna with Asian Salad and Ponzu Tapioca ‘Faux Caviar’
2 8-ounce Tuna steaks, about an inch think
2 T. grapeseed oil (or canola)
Salt and Pepper as needed
Heat a pan (smoking hot.)
Season one side of Tuna with salt and pepper.
Sear Tuna steaks on one side for about 45 seconds to a minute (season other side.)
Flip and sear 45 seconds to a minute.
Sear end sides about 30 seconds.
Remove from pan and let rest.
1 T. soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili oil
2 large carrots, julienned
1 daikon radish, julienned (or 6-8 red radishes)
4 heads baby bok choy, stems removed, sliced
1 asian pear (or bosc) peeled and julienned
2 T. chopped cilantro
Toss together with dressing.
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup grapefruit juice
1 T. lime juice
1 T. honey
½ cup Tapioca pearls (small or large)
2 quarts boiling water
Cook tapioca in water until only the middle is translucent.
Remove and rinse with cold water.
Soak tapioca in Ponzu sauce for 2 hours (more is fine).
Serve seared tuna shingled atop the dressed salad and finish with the faux caviar.