Home School Cooking Series by 17 Black Events With Chef Kristian Eligh & Mixologist Jeff Savage

Thanks first to my friend Talon in Victoria who mentioned these online cooking classes last spring. When I created my 2020 Year Of Marilyn Bucket List Challenge, one of the items was to taking a cooking class. With the COVID pandemic, there have only been a few windows of opportunity when this was a possibility, but the timing just didn't work for me.  This online cooking series by 17 Black Events offered a safe way to cross one more thing off my list!

It took me until late November to sign up for a class. Part of this was getting motivated, and part was choosing a series with a menu that really called me.  The class run on Dec. 3rd offered just that - a crispy skinned Brick Pressed Chicken, roasted fingerling potatoes and caramelized brussels sprouts tossed in a warm vinaigrette made from grainy mustard, honey and bacon, and an arugula salad in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing - all topped with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley. YUM! To start us off right, mixologist Jeff Savage helped us create a cocktail called Find Your Tribe that had definite holiday notes.  

There were things I really loved about this class and others that I didn't, but I want to start with this note about the class overall. It was run VERY professionally.  They had a moderator that not only introduced the two professionals leading the class, but watched the zoom Q and A so that as questions arose, he could ask them for us.  Cameras during the cooking portion in particular were well placed and they had someone move between the different cameras so we could clearly follow what we were to do.

The opening introduction by the host.
Went full screen on just 1 person when
they were teaching.
The chef plated veggies
topped by chicken topped by salad, etc. I loved this as it was easy to take a multi-item bite - a little of this a little of that. My friend plated his all separately including the salad in a bowl and I loved the look of that presentation too. So you can adjust things to your preferences.

Things I loved -

  • All instructions were clear and given in a relaxed tone. They let you know your work didn't have to be perfect - don't panic. This was really important for me when we were removing the half chicken from the bone and then deboning the thigh.  Me, a former vegetarian, deboning a chicken thigh.  Crazy.
  • I learned some new techniques.  Who knew you could air dry chicken uncovered in the fridge for 2 days to get a crispier skin? And I liked the process of the chicken deboned with skin on pressed down with a weight to get a really flat presentation with a beautiful brown, crisp finish.
  • The warm mustard/honey/bacon vinaigrette on the veggies was divine. I will be using this when I'm able to entertain again. The potatoes and brussels sprouts, as well as the vinaigrette, can be partially prepared ahead of time with an easy finish last minute. Perfect for company meals 
  • I am always surprised how easy and tasty a simply dressed salad is. A little arugula, a squeeze of lemon, a little olive oil, toss with you hands, plate, then shave a little parmesan on top. Why do I bother with bottled dressing? 
  • The food was divine. Both my husband and I enjoyed this menu completely. So despite the parts of the class that didn't work for me personally and the lateness we had to eat, the outcome was perfect.
    Left, what the cocktail SHOULD look like
    Centre - chef with his girls before starting
    Right - his presentation
Things that didn't work for me personally -

  • The lateness. We normally eat at 6, so to start cooking at 6 and not eat until after 8 was a challenge. I don't think this can change as many people have to come home from work first and I know many people don't eat until 7 or 8. So not an issue for most I would assume.
  • The talking. Before the mixologist and then before the chef went to work, there was a lot more than a general introduction. I honestly didn't want all the extra stuff. I just wanted to cook and try to eat before 8. The promo is nice for the professionals I am sure, but it went on too long. I wanted to dive in. Hopefully they can find a way to cover this same ground quicker in the future - short, sweet and to the point, then move on.
  • The cocktail. My friend enjoyed it. I wasn't big on it. It's unusual. You make a syrup ahead of time with cloves, allspice, cinnamon, dried apricots, coconut and brown sugar. Then it is mixed with lime juice and whiskey or rum.  If you love cloves and all-spice, you'll love it.  I personally found the cloves overpowering. NOTE - I shook mine with ice, but as I made it before, I didn't know to pour it over a full glass of shaved ice as well so that would have softened it. 
  • The pots and pans. While cooking this menu we used 2 sauce pans, 3 frying pans including one cast iron skillet (plus 1 of the 3 skillets was wiped out and used again), 2 baking sheets and 2 cutting boards. That is a LOT of things to wash up just to make 2 plates of food. Fortunately I'm a fast worker and could tuck in a little washing up as I went along. Then some things I tucked into the dishwasher.  But honestly that's way too many dirty kitchen things. 

My cocktail isn't served right. Made it before the class started and didn't
realize it was suppose to be poured over a FULL glass of crushed ice which
would have diluted it more. Mea Culpa.

I again want to say how great this online class was run overall and how truly tasty the meal we made together was. I am so glad I tried it. If you are a home chef in training who loves good food, someone who loves being in the kitchen trying new things, or someone who wants to be inspired by trying new techniques - this series will hit the mark. Like it simple with the fewest pans possible, then maybe not.

Want to see what else is on my 2020 Year of Marilyn Bucket List Challenge - go to www.oliobymarilyn.com/2019/12/the-2020-year-of-marilyn-bucket-list.html

Want to sign up to get notifications from 17 Black Events on future cooking classes - go to www.17blackevents.com/