If a renowned chef decided to build a kitchen in the middle of paradise, and then opened it up to others to experience, would people come? If the sold out results of Sugar Beach Event’s first event of their new Cooking on Maui with Chef Lee series is any indication, the answer would be a delectable yes.
The Best of Beef and Bourbon cooking class, featured an intriguing menu based on these two not so commonly paired items. The idea for the event was sparked while Chef Lee and her bartender/mixologist husband, Carl, were grilling steaks one night. “Carl made a great cocktail that had a hint of bourbon in it that paired perfectly,” says Chef Lee. “Bourbon has one of those flavors that even if you don’t like it in a cocktail, it tastes really good in sauces and to accompany savory foods.”
20 eager participants showed up at the ballroom of Sugar Beach Events ready to whip up knives and cutting boards and attack the ingredients on the menu. After a quick sit down session with Chef Lee explaining the menu and what was to entail the rest of the evening, everyone headed for the decked out professional kitchen.
Inside, participants manned various work stations. Some focused on salads and potatoes. Others on meat items. And still others on dessert. In three and a half hours they were to create a seven-course menu that included bourbon braised short ribs, bourbon strip steak, grilled pork chop with a bourbon mustard glaze, bread pudding with a bourbon coffee caramel sauce, and more. After a few quick instructions, the kitchen morphed into a frenzied beehive.
Chef Lee and her assistants, Natalie and Courtney, roamed throughout the various work areas giving pointers and answering questions. Every once in a while, Chef Lee would stop the proceedings to give a demonstration. At one point she deftly carved through a side of beef turning it into various mouth-watering cuts of steaks.
Reasons for coming out to the event were as varied as the menu for the evening. Two of the participants, cooking enthusiasts, Christian and Chelsea, saw this as an opportunity to meet others and learn a few cooking tips at the same time. Husband and wife, Glenn and Barbara, on the other hand, admitted they weren’t “big cooks” at all. Neither of them considered themselves really into cooking. They just saw it as a new experience, something fun and different to do. Paula had a whole other take. She commented that it was one of the few events on Maui that someone could go as a single person without a date.
As the participants finished up in the kitchen and gathered back out to the ballroom, Carl gave a talk on bourbon. He went over the myriad of most popular brands, what makes each unique and various other interesting parlor talk details (for example, did you know you really can’t truly call bourbon a bourbon unless it’s made in Kentucky?). Though many bourbons are aged, some up to nine years, his favorite all-time bourbon happens to be aged less than a year and isn’t even made in Kentucky (which then makes you wonder if you can really call it a bourbon).
At the end of the talk, the participants were asked to go into the kitchen to make their plates. The long table everyone sat at looked like a double-sided seating of DaVinci’s The Last Supper. But from the comments coming from several we talked to, dishes learned from the evening were surely NOT going to be the last time prepared and eaten.
MENU FOR THE EVENING
- Bourbon Bacon Spinach Salad
- Glazed Baby Kula Carrots
- Sour Cream Yukon Gold Potato Puree
- Bourbon Braised Short Ribs
- Bourbon Strip Steak
- Grilled Pork Chop ~ Bourbon Mustard Glaze
- Bread Pudding ~ Bourbon Coffee Caramel Sauce
One of Chef Lee’s loves is to share cooking tips, secrets and recipes. The Best of Beef and Bourbon is the first of many cooking events to come. Be on the lookout for future events or sign up here to get on the Sugar Beach Events mailing list to be notified of the next cooking class.
A review from one of the participants:
Chef Lee has an inspired, innovative event called “Cooking on Maui with Chef Lee” and I attended her first ever class – ‘Beef and Bourbon’. What a night! Twenty people had the opportunity to prepare at least 7 dishes in a professional kitchen under the leadership of Chef Lee with coaching and assistance by her crew. It was happily busy and boisterous but also organized and efficient and best of all – we got to eat everything at the end! We also got to sample (and learn about) bourbon – a perfect complement to the meal. If you have the opportunity to attend one of these events, seize it! And if you are in need of a caterer or an event venue, I highly recommend Chef Lee and Sugar Beach Events.