Talented celebrity chefs share their gourmet cooking skills with the rest of us

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in one of the Arts Club's Celebrity Chef Cooking Classes.

This is a signature fundraising event for The Arts Club, and has been happening in Vancouver for 12 years. A brilliant idea in my opinion: who wouldn't want to attend a cooking class taught by a local celebrity in a private residence donated for the occasion?

Meeting the Culinary Masters

Our class was treated to a four-course Mediterranean-themed feast prepared (and taught) by the charming and humble Tim Evans. Evans is originally from the UK and gained experience in Michelin-starred restaurants in London and Edinburgh before moving to Vancouver nearly 10 years ago to apprentice at CinCin Restaurant. He moved to Cru Restaurant in 2011 and then took on the executive chef role at Siena Restaurant when it opened last year.

He and his assistant Yoshi were great instructors and managed to balance all the guests coming in and out of their kitchen to assist, plate, admire and smell the preparing courses. Yoshi taught me that chocolate ganache is just three ingredients in equal parts: chocolate, cream and butter. I did some master whisking while we worked in tandem over a double boiler to prepare the evening's dessert. But more on that later.

Preparing the Four-course Meal

We started the evening with a clean and bright blood orange, basil, limoncello and prosecco cocktail, and some traditional Mediterranean antipasti. The cooking classes are as interactive as you like; guests are welcome to grab an apron and learn from the masters, or watch from the sidelines, sip wine and mingle. I did a bit of both.

From here we moved to the albacore tuna crudo with sweet and sour cherry tomato. The tuna was prepared by pan searing, then was basted with a mix of seasonings and wrapped in blanched basil leaves. The fish was well-seasoned and cooked, and blanching the basil toned its flavour down to make it less dominant. Each dish had a wine pairing from Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery.

Our second course was a blood orange and shaved fennel salad with sunflower shoots, pea greens, and a limoncello vinaigrette. It's very rare in my experience to get a vinaigrette that is not overly tart, and this dressing was savoury yet mild, a great compliment to the fennel and the greens.

The main course was a show-stopper: grappa and thyme marinated Haida Gwaii sable fish on a bed of Spanish saffron risotto. The risotto had perfect bite, while the sablefish was so buttery and soft it melted on the tongue. 

We ended the evening with a bitter chocolate shortbread tart with hazelnut mascarpone so rich I felt a little dizzy after I finished, but that didn't prevent me from scraping my plate.

If you have a free evening and want to learn something new in the kitchen and meet some new folks, all while supporting the arts in our community, I recommend checking out this series.

See the Celebrity Chef Cooking Class schedule online. To book, call 604.687.5315 ext. 248, or contact specialevents@artsclub.com