Cooking with the Best Chefs starts spring season

Cooking with the Best Chefs, a culinary organization, will continue its spring season of cooking classes at Basil Café and Wine Bar, 6500 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.

Every three months, the group holds a new season of classes featuring different ethnicities and cooking styles. All classes are open to the public with advanced registration. Cost is $35 per person for the public and $25 for members. Annual membership is $25 per household. Call 630/980-6800 for more info and to register, or log on to

The group also sponsors wine dinners, restaurant tours, mushroom hunts and attends day trips to food and wine festivals.

Each class is about two hours and is taught by a different professional chef. The chef teaches the host one-on-one under a mirror system while the classes watch with a set of recipes.

A minimum of three dishes are taught with questions permitted at the end of each demonstration, and a hearty sample of each dish. Some Saturday kids’ classes and hands-on classes are also offered.

The spring class schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, May 17, 7-9 p.m., French Dinner with Michael Rocher—Rocher, executive chef at Josef of Barbados, will prepare pan-seared, ginger-encrusted scallops with asparagus and beurre blanc; duck magret with port wine sauce and fresh pear; and apple phyllo purse with cinnamon butter and raisins with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Saturday, May 20, 8:30 a.m.-noon, Hands-On Class: Complete Spring Dinner For Four with John Branyan—Garrett’s Café Executive Chef Branyan will prepare seared sea scallop over Israeli cous cous salad with fresh citrus relish; blanched asparagus salad with pancetta, balsamic reduction and drizzled with white truffle oil; and sauteed chicken paillard with white wine tomato sauce and parmesan potato Hash. Note: This class is limited to 12. Attendees must bring a paring knife, cutting board or sheet, one large sautee pan, one small sautee pan, one small saucepan, one medium mixing bowl and three large plastic containers to take cooked dishes home. Cost is $80 per nonmember; $65 per member.

Wednesday, May 31, 7-9 p.m., Thai Cuisine with Willow Junya—Junya is chef-owner of Thai Cuisine in Rockford. Junya will present Thai spring rolls with lettuce, cucumber, noodles, shredded chicken and fresh basil rolled in delicate rice wrapper, served with a sweet-and-sour sauce; Som Tum—Papaya Salad, combination of fresh garlic, tomato, shallot, chiles, shredded papaya, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar; Pud Thai Shrimp, thin rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp and a mixture of sweet, sour and salty sauce; and Gang Kari Chicken, aromatic curry dish of dry chiles, ground herbs and spices with chicken, cooked in coconut sauce and vegetables.

Wednesday, June 14, 7-9 p.m., Marinating, Smoking and Grilling with Tom James—Chef-owner of The Huddle in Belvidere, James will teach how to marinate various seafood and meats with three different marinades; how to hot-smoke salmon, scallops and rib roast with different fruit woods; and how to grill seafood and meats with direct and indirect heat. This class will be held outdoors, weather-permitting.

Saturday, June 24, 10 a.m.-noon, French 101 for Kids with Chris Mallars—Mallars, executive chef of Basil Café in Loves Park, will present Coquilles Saint-Jacques Provencale Style with shrimp and scallops; Potatoes Mousseline, extra special mashed potatoes; and Macaroni au Gratin, macaroni, bechamel sauce and gruyere cheese. This class is open to kids age 5-17 and their parents or guardians. Cost is $20 per child and per adult accompanying a child.

Wednesday, June 28, 7-9 p.m., Summer Smoked Salmon with Jason Kovanda—Kovanda, executive chef of the University Club, will offer traditional smoked salmon; smoked salmon roll with boursin cheese and fresh spinach; and smoked salmon salad.

From the May 17-23, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!