It was an entirely vegan menu: tomato and avocado tartare, fresh cavatelli pasta with mushroom Bolognese, chickpea and lentil “meatballs” with a truffle-cauliflower purée, and coconut & almond milk “cheesecake” with fresh berries.
The word "vegan" tends to intimidate a lot of diners and home cooks, or induce eyes to roll, but really, everything we made was super easy to prepare with ingredients easily available (and that anyone would already know).
It was a really good opportunity to see those elements in use while also honing new skills and techniques. Two skills we concentrated on that I really enjoyed were knife skills and plating. I (want to say) have learned a lot about knife skills, in particular, from watching lots of food shows (especially Top Chef), knowing to tuck my fingers in and keep my arm and elbow steady at my side to maintain balance. But, of course, that’s easier said than done. Yet that part went well enough.
You’d think I’d have learned more about plating from food shows, but honestly, I really don’t know much about that—especially without the proper equipment at home (i.e. a plating ring). The first 90 minutes of the class was chopping, slicing, mixing, preparing the dessert, cutting the pasta, etc. But once all of the prep was done and it came time for the meal to be served, we moved to plating the appetizer (the tartare). While it looks complex in the photo, it was actually super easy to do with the ring. (It didn’t hurt that it was also incredibly delicious and refreshing when we finally tasted it—especially thanks to the everything bagel seasoning!)
My only qualm would be that I wish we had been able to plate the rest of the dishes as well. But we didn’t (and the chef did for us) because after the appetizer, the students sit down and can begin to eat their meal, as well as rest, while the chef brings out each course. Not sure if there is a way around that, but otherwise, I really enjoyed the class overall. Would definitely try it again for another menu.