Four strangers gather around a wooden table that’s covered with raw vegetables, spices and cooking utensils. One of the four has been to eight similar classes; another explains that she knows her way around the kitchen. And I had little to no experience behind the stove. Nametags help us break the ice, but even better is the bonding that occurs once chef Dan Pezzulo takes center stage.
That’s when the real fun begins at the cooking classes offered nearly every day and/or night of the week at Sur la Table in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. Pezzulo is one of several experts dishing culinary tips at sessions with titles like “Fresh Berries, Fabulous Desserts,” “Grilled Seafood Made Easy” and “Date Night: Italy Al Fresco.”
On this night, Pezzulo’s class was “Celebrating Summer Vegetables”; students were greeted with spring rolls and miso soup to set the mood, and water infused with fresh oranges and cappuccinos were offered throughout the evening.
Pezzulo knew how to challenge the more experienced students, while nudging the new ones along without intimidating them. The rest of the team at Sur la Table proved helpful and attentive—if you used your knife, someone was there to clean it right away; if you dropped a utensil on the floor, an assistant had it in the dishwasher before you could bend down to grab it.
Aside from the excellent teacher and knowledgeable staff, the food was beyond delicious. But I don’t think it had much to do with my cooking prowess—every ingredient we used was fresh and well-cleaned. That’s saying a lot considering we were using vegetables for the entire class.
We started with zucchini and cilantro pancakes with lime crema as a topping—a true opening-dish crowd pleaser. From there, we made a kale salad with grilled apricots and goat cheese. “Kale is the new spinach,” chef Dan proclaimed. “It’s a super-food that is extremely nutritional.”
For the final recipe, we made lemon quinoa risotto with roasted tomatoes and asparagus. This was a hearty, filling dish easily could serve as a main course. It’s perfect for vegetarians and will keep you energized for hours (quinoa is full of protein).
Though I have no cooking experience—the people around me couldn’t believe I live off food that can be microwaved or boiled—I gradually caught on. Working with the knife was intimidating at first, I felt comfortable by the end (there’s a separate knife-skills class that I may have to look into).
If you’re looking for a date night, girls’ night out—or if you’re just trying to improve your kitchen skills—Sur la Table is the place to go. There was even a group of five from the same place of work who were using the class as a team-building exercise. Check out one of the upcoming classes before they fill up. You won’t regret it.
For more information and class schedules, call 561/953-7670 or visit surlatable.com.