Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cooking in Season

Florida’s growing seasons sometimes doesn’t make sense to ‘town’s Executive Chef Scott Ostrander, who grew up on a farm in New York.  But you won’t hear him complain about the availability of heirloom tomatoes in winter.  Chef Scott celebrated the area’s wintertime agricultural bounty at the first Cooking in Season class last Saturday at his restaurant in Avondale.  It was the first in a series of four classes organized by Sustainable Springfield to honor the growing seasons of Northeast Florida.  Classes will include cooking demonstrations and culinary tips from the some of the area’s top chefs.

Participants clustered around ‘town’s open kitchen for this sold-out class and listened attentively as Chef Scott spoke about selecting and preparing winter ingredients.  Guests received a list of local farmers’ markets that feature fresh, local produce and the chef talked about his favorite local farmers and fish markets.  Did you know that much of the landscaping in front of ‘town is edible? Rosemary and mint and kumquat trees…

The real fun began when the chef demonstrated a few recipes using seasonal ingredients. First up was an heirloom cherry tomato salad with a snow pea shoot and arugula salad. The sweet multi-colored tomatoes were tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette with shallot and parsley then allowed to marinate for thirty minutes before being served with the fresh greens.

He then demonstrated a recipe for coq au vin. Chef Scott marinated chicken in an aromatic red wine concoction, and flames danced high in the air as he seared the chicken and then transferred it to the oven to slowly braise.  Guests sampled the tomato salad, coq au vin, and collard green “chips” –young collard greens that turned crisp and translucent when fried.

We were then sent off with recipes and inspiration for preparing Northeast Florida’s abundance of fresh produce at home.

Future classes take place on Saturday mornings:
April 16, 2011: Executive Chef Scotty Schwartz of 29 South 
July 9, 2011: Executive Chef Brian Siebenschuh of Restaurant Orsay 
October 15, 2011: Executive Chef David Bearl, Director of First Coast Technical College's Culinary Arts Program.

Each class costs $40. Visit to reserve your spot for the spring class!