Les Petits Chefs again had the honour of welcoming Chef Vanessa Yeung of Aphrodite Cooks into the
kitchen science lab this week. Vanessa came in the spring for a different group of Petits Chefs and showed them how to make dumplings and pot-stickers and she graciously agreed to come back this term!
For those who don’t know, Aphrodite Cooks is a cooking school bringing together like-minded singles (and couples) for cooking class parties in a relaxed and intimate environment. Professionally trained chefs expertly and patiently guide participants through the preparation and presentation of a wide variety of dishes. At the end of the evening the class gathers to share in the culinary experience they helped to create. Vanessa trained at the Stratford Chefs School, graduating with the Award of Culinary Excellence. She undertook a prestigious apprenticeship at one of Canada’s top restaurants, Scaramouche where she honed her skills and her palate, to understand that sometimes simplicity is the road to perfection. Since opening her catering company (also offering personal chef services), Vanessa has catered to the Hospital for Sick Children, York University, University of Toronto and the Credit Union of Ontario. Vanessa has also worked as a private chef to some of Toronto’s most prestigious professional athletes.
Neil and I were fortunate guests at Vanessa’s cooking studio last weekend to participate in the Couples Dim Sum class (more on that later in the post) so I had a sneak peek of what the boys would be working on for Monday. Vanessa chose Sui Mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings) and Mango salad(read: lots of chopping to keep little hands busy!). She divided the boys into two teams: Team Salad and Team Dumpling and everyone just sort of got on with their assigned tasks once Vanessa had demonstrated how.
Team Salad peeled and chopped mangoes and cucumbers….
Meanwhile back on Team Salad, we were all done:
I was SO proud of the boys this week. Monday was our annual “Mistletoe market” and rather a lot of treats had been consumed. But the 10 Petits Chefs worked quietly under Vanessa’s calm guidance to complete these two dishes in around 50 minutes. Bravo Petits Chefs, bravo! Many thanks to Vanessa for taking time out of her busy schedule to come in and teach the boys some new skills.
But Vanessa’s not just fabulous with petits chefs, she does an amazing job with adults too. Neil and I were invited to participate in the Couples Dim Sum class. Twenty of us gathered in her cool loft space on Saturday evening to cook a menu of dim sum delicacies:
Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai
Bison and Pork Siu Mai
Har Gow – Steamed Shrimp Dumplings
Vegetarian Water Dumplings
Stuffed Eggplant with Shrimp
Green Onion Pancakes
Wine was served and it was definitely a fun, non-intimidating way to learn some new-to-me techniques – Vanessa divided the tasks up and led one group of us through a few recipes whilst her mum (THE expert!) led the other group. After a couple of hours, we sat down to a spectacular feast – I honestly couldn’t pick my favourite, but if I had to pick, I’d say the steamed dumplings and coconut tarts. FYI, Les Petits Chefs did a better job forming the Siu Mai than we adults did LOL!
Here’s a glimpse of the evening’s proceedings (if you are reading this in email or a RSS reader, you will have to click through to the post to see the slides):
Thank you SO much Vanessa for two fabulous experiences in the kitchen this week. We hope you will come back to work with us again sometime in the lab. I know Neil and I hope to be back in your studio sooner rather than later!
NEWSFLASH: Les Petits Chefs are featured on the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution website today – so proud!