Whole Foods Café has the best bargain in town for cooking classes/meals; an evening of delicious food cooked before you by Whole Foods chefs, or other top local chefs. Depending on the supplies, dinner-demonstrations may be free (most) or a nominal $5 or $10, when there’s pricier ingredients and/or wine.
Guest Chef Eric Delano of Naples’ Roy’s Restaurant prepared a 4 course meal of Roy’s classics for only $10 at Whole Foods Café. A "steal of a deal” as one diner summed it up. Such a deal! He provided a very animated live demonstration of how to prepare thr four courses. He added a glass of Whole Foods’ crisp organic Earthstone Chardonnay 09. He even distributed recipes of these classic Roy’s dishes.. It got even better- he started the demonstration by singing while playing acoustic guitar. Chef Eric rocks!
He demonstrated how simple it is to make fresh Mozzzarella cheese at home. With double gloved hands, he pulled the cheese from boiling water, let it cool,
and added herbs before serving. We tasted how much better it tastes freshly made.
Did you know that the texture changes with refrigeration? It’s easy to incorporate herbs and spices while making cheeses, to go with any salad or meal.
Every seat in the intimate café is a good seat, with two overhead wide screen TV’s giving a binocular birds’ eye view of the stove and prep area. It’s the best designed kitchen- classroom around. Whole Foods Café has 4-6 cooking classes a month, so there’s bound to be one that’s right for you.
Cooking classes elsewhere cost $30-$120, however they have more food and several wine pours. I've found that Whole Foods’ classes are the best priced for the price, quality of instruction, and food portion and quality.
Be prepared to take notes. Chef Eric shared “secrets” on how much to reduce a sauce’s wine (to ½) before adding cream. Learn how to best sear ahi tuna with a black and white sesame seed crust. We then savored the tender seared tuna morsels with swirls of organic carrots and a bold mustard sauce, all sourced from Whole Foods shelves.
Crunchy golden lobster pot stickers were next. They are easy to make. The routine is simple, like making empanadas or other dumpling variants. Fill ‘em with chopped lobster (or shrimp) and veggies, then bake perhaps 12 minutes till tender inside crisp outside. Cover with a heavenly sauce and I bet you can’t just eat one.. two…or three!
Make ‘em at home or, easier still, buy them as happy hour appetizers at Roys- a delight for $5! BTW, there’s chunks of lobster in them.
I’ll share a “secret” with you-Roy’s Aloha Hour is Sunday to Friday in the bar, 4:30-6 pm. Other $5 appetizers include Lobster California roll, Tempura crusted spicy ahi roll, Salt & pepper crisped calamari, and Wagyu beef sliders. Martinis, cocktails and some wines are $5, too. The food is ample, delicous, and the price is right.
Halfway through the dinner, a friend whispered, “You have to come outside, right now, to see the sunset!" There ya go, view from Whole Foods doorway to you. No Photoshop here, just a sunset in Paradise.
Do you like lobster bisque? Love a really good one? Chef Eric shared his secret ingredients. I could drink the warm bisque like a soup all day, it’s delicious comfort food. He shows how to make lobster stock from lobster heads and shells with mirepoix, strain it, then freeze aliquots in ice cube tray.
Later, pop out some cubes to sauce a dish as needed. You’ll be a star to family and guests with your cooking skills ramped up after these demonstrations pointers.
“B n B” takes on a new meaning with Chef Eric as “Brandy and Bacon”- his secret bisque ingredients. They elevate a seafood favorite to pure ambrosia. It’s pretty easy-his demonstration was proof for all to see. When you drizzle the creamy rich lobster bisque over the Macadamia nut mahi mahi—Wow!
Macadamia nut mahi mahi is another star to make at home- easy with butter, mac nuts and panko. No nuts for you? Substitute blue cheese or other things for the nuts. Did you know that panko crumbs are crispier than bread crumbs because a touch of sugar keeps them firm? Chef Eric shows how to pan- crisp the fish’s crust at the right heat. You can stop at this stage, set the fish in the fridge till later. Then re-heat and add warm lobster bisque sauce when guests are seated. Cooking ahead is the smart way to serve guests. You've more time with your guests. Add a crisp organic Earthstone Chardonnay, $9, and you're in for a treat!
Chef Eric is a natural entertainer-he soon has the group, laughing and making new friends with those at other tables. School was never this fun!
Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé is really a lusciously molten chocolate lava cake-I have it every time I’m at a Roy’s. Chef Eric’s instructions are priceless-wait till you serve this at your home, you new gourmet chef, you! Follow his steps. It’ll turn out better than by just Googling a recipe from the net. Melt butter and chocolate, heat , then add eggs to temper. Yes, that easy. Pour into 4 oz cups, let sit in fridge for 24 hours. Eighteen minutes before serving, pop it in a 350 degree oven and voila! It’s truly “a piece of cake” to make! He also added ice cream, strawberries, and brought some of Roy’s classic mini pineapple upside down cakes to show how easy that is, too. I’m now Jonesing for one of those!
The “students” asked Chef Eric not to mention to others when the next classes were, so they could again have him to themselves. In appreciation of your reading my culinary wanderings, I’ll give you the scoop. Class schedules are on each Roy’s website.
Call and reserve for the next Table Talk with Chef Delano, held at Roy’s Naples. Enjoy 7 taps sized courses with wine for ~ $55. ..261-1416
The Roy’s Wine Club tastings are held the third Monday of each month from 6:00-7:30pm and include a sampling of Roy’s signature appetizers. Each tasting is $20 per person.
Afterward people shopped at Whole Foods Market, noticing all the signs for local and sustainable produce. The biggest pumpkin I ever saw, over 100 lbs, was on display.
About 20% of food at Whole Foods is locally sourced, much is sustainable. Florida orange juices,
tomatoes, tupelo honey, cheeses, quail eggs, coffees, and even Florida beers like Key West Sunset Ale.
Wander around Whole Foods like a kid in a healthy candy store. Check out Whole Foods Café classes, and Roy’s Chef Eric’s delicious cuisine. Bring a guitar to a class, you never know who will start playing!
Naples Whole Foods Market, The Mercato, 552-5100
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