Cooking with Chef Tim Evans for The Arts Club's Celebrity Chef Cooking Series
You may not be able to cook like a chef, so why not cook with one?
The Arts Club, a not-for-profit organization that considers itself part of the community, strives to connect and unite people through fun and unique events. With this in mind, it's very appropriate that they would create Celebrity Chef Cooking Series, which has been running for the past 8 years bi-annually.
The goal of these cooking classes is to share knowledge from renowned Vancouver chefs with the general public, whether aspiring chefs or simply lovers of food. By showcasing their expertise in a three hour hands-on cooking class they hope to teach those attending the secrets to their culinary masterpieces.
The class I attended was with Chef Tim Evans and Sous Chef Dave Thielmann of Siena Restaurant, and was hosted by Sandra and Peter Kelly, in their gorgeous Kerrisdale home. The home boasted a large backyard and a spacious kitchen and dining area: a perfect venue for a large, interactive dinner party.
If you've ever cooked in someone else's kitchen then you know it's not easy using someone else's appliances and working spaces. You reach for the measuring cup and you get the spatula, or you open the dishwasher expecting it to be the oven. While this wasn't the case for Chef Evans as he seemlessly moved about the kitchen like he'd been cooking in it for years, you can imagine the additional stress that it could add. Aggrandize this stress with twenty some odd curious, communicative, and hungry people looming over your shoulder and you need some quick feet, a witty personality and a patient soul.
Chef Tim Evans and Sous Chef Dave Thielmann fit the bill nicely. Neither of them had ever done anything like it before but they were both excited with the opportunity to be part of The Arts Club's Celebrity Chef Cooking Series.
"I cook simple, unpretentious food, moving with the seasons and allowing natural flavors to speak for themselves," he explained.
I wasn't sure what to expect since the menu at Siena is considered casual comfort. Could this style really be worth the ticket price of $125 when mains on their menu ranged from $15 to $21? When the menu for the event was sent to us just prior to the class I was easily convinced that they were and even more eager to go.
Appetizers were pre-prepared and consisted of grilled veggies, olives, fresh bread, crackers, fresh hummus and deep-fried risotto balls.
"Try these risotto balls, they're fantastic." I overheard a woman say. And this was just a prelude to the night's delicious meal.
With the exception of these risotto balls, most of the items on the menu that night were created exclusively for the class.
Wine was from Mission Hill Estate's reserve selection and was consistently flowing throughout the night, a different wine paired appropriately with each course. As a special treat we were also offered a beverage of melted sorbet and Prosecco which was a refreshing beverage to have on a warm Spring night.
Seared lingcod, butter poached lobster, lemon ricotta gnudi.
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
I spoke with a couple before we started preparing the lobster for this dish. Chef Evans had asked the group if anyone wanted to "take care of" the fresh and still alive lobsters. I got the short and sweet story that began with "she's a pro" (the gentleman's wife) and ending with "she almost cut off my hand." A lesson learned I'm sure.
Fortunately there were no injuries at this class as Chef Evans and Sous Chef Thielmann kept a close eye on those getting their hands dirty, offering tips to them as they went through it.
Like there would be at any dinner party there were some vegetarians in the class. To accomodate them Chef Evans prepared a dish solely of gnudi without the seafood, which raised no complaints.
A common question asked during the preparation of this dish was what gnudi was. You may be curious yourself as I had never had it until this dinner. An easy assumption would be that it is similar to gnocchi, and it is, in fact it's almost identical except that replacing potatoes is ricotta cheese.
The night finished with a creamy and fruity panna cotta and a sweet and delicious ice wine. To counteract the sweetness from both and to perk up again from our food coma, Nespresso coffee was served.
There was a mixed crowd at the class from older couples to those attending solo and even a trio of young women who reportedly never cook. Knowing this it was great to see the ladies (Karen, Yvonne and Jennifer) getting right in there during the class chopping melon and separating mint.
The class was mixed in this sense as well, with some coming to the class for hands on experience with a chef, and others preferring to sip wine and socialize in the dining room as the food was prepared.
"We (Tim and Dave) were both worried that it was going to be very formal, but it wasn't. We had been preparing for the class for six to seven weeks familiarizing ourselves with the kitchen and deciding what dishes to make. We were prepared for anything. It ended up being a really fun evening and it was great that people were so friendly and interested in what we were doing. I would definitely do it again if asked." Chef Evans said with a smile.
Chefs from all over Vancouver are taking part in this series, half of whom have done it before and half of whom who are "newbies" to the Celebrity Chef Series. Names such as Tom Lee, David Robertson, Anthony Sedlack, Ned Bell, Qwang Dang, and Jefferson Alvarez took part in the Spring series.
Classes for this season are now sold out as they have been very popular. For more info on the classes check out www.artsclub.com/events/cooking-classes/ and stay tuned for the next series in the fall.
For more high resolution photos check out my gallery.
ABOUT CHEF TIM EVANS
Hailing from Gloucestershire England, Tim’s resume expands over 10 years of working in some ofthe UK’s and Canada’s top restaurants including time at Michelin starred restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh, Scotland and staging at London's iconic two starred Le Gavroche.
Tim moved to Vancouver in 2004 working in some of the city’s top eateries, but it was with joining CinCin and apprenticing under top chef Canada contestant Francois Gagnon that Tim grew to his full potential.
Tim joined Mark Taylors CRU restaurant in 2011 as Sous chef to Executive Chef Alana Peckham before being given the reigns at CRU's new sister restaurant Siena, which opened in February 2012.