Put a fork in us. We’re done!
Last weekend our group, Natural Gourmet Institute’s 255th Chef Training Program class graduated. It was bittersweet. We expected the program to transform us as cooks. But I think we were all surprised by the harmonic group dynamic which developed. Like a variety of spices, we started as 16 cooks with nearly no common thread other than our passion for health and cooking. But, very early into our year in the kitchen, we melded into a masala — a harmonic team, as much family as classmates. As such, the numbers 2-5-5 will forever be dear to our hearts.
We graduated, but yet we were not quite done with school. The next day was our final class, Sicilian cooking. Technically, we did not have to attend. Yet, every student showed up ready to cook Italian. Yes, we had already paid for the class. But, more importantly, it was the chance to spend one last day in the kitchen together —and with Chef Rich LaMarita.
The day began with a lecture about the food of Sicily, its history and influences from other cultures and trade routes. A slide show of Italian landscapes (taken by the chef during his travels) followed, set to a soundtrack of music from classic Italian movies. Once we started cooking, It felt as if the classroom was a cooking scene from ‘Big Night’. Louis Prima is still singing in my head.
Our day of cooking and the eventual Sicilian feast is best described with pictures. Here are just a few highlights of us creating our feast and chef teaching us everything from how to make fresh ricotta (it’s all about the milk!), how to form arrancini and how to ‘listen’ for when cream puffs are done. We cooked, set the tables, and after a series of toasts, moist eyes and an amazing meal, it was all over.
It was more than a class. It was an event which we will never forget. We will always be grateful to Chef Rich for giving us the perfect last day at NGI, il ultimo bacio!