So what’s Donnie been up to? You’d guess he’s got some kind of restaurant development in the works…he does, but more on that shortly. Over the last few months, die-hard Donnie fans and aspiring chefs have been gifted with instructional cooking classes hosted by The Don himself. The events have been planned and coordinated with the help of local food blogger, Thanh Rasico, the mastermind behind Red Kitchen Recipes. Together, Ferneau and Rasico have hosted a number of intimate and engaging cooking classes, in which attendees are provided with numerous helpful tips and tidbits for the home kitchen. Donnie does the cooking, occasionally soliciting help from the studio audience (I pity the poor girl who was roped into stirring the risotto for an hour at the last meeting), and everyone is served tasting plates in which to sample the fruits of Donnie’s labors. Bellies are well fed, but perhaps even better is the seemingly constant stream of witty, candid, and coolly confident chatter that comes out of Chef Ferneau. The guy’s got a gift for entertaining—chock full of enough humorous and brutally honest sound bites to keep any good food writer or reporter grinding away at their note pads for hours. It’s really what makes the class a joy to be a part of, and it seems unlikely that they’d work nearly as well without such a lively and animated headmaster. At one point, Donnie remarks on television’s The Bachelor, and in regards to this year’s bachelor states, “When I first saw him I thought, ‘Hey, I’m better looking than that guy.’ Then he took his shirt off and I thought, ‘No, I’m not.’ ” The chef makes the experience. The food is good, but even if it weren’t, you’d still be getting your money’s worth.
We moved on to a nice spring risotto with fresh corn. Donnie explains how patience is crucial to this dish—a constant, steady stir allows the slow absorption of vegetable broth by the raw Arborio rice. He adds richness with a touch of cream and pecorino cheese, and after making short work of a half-dozen ears of corn, adds the golden kernels to the dish. By the time we had moved on to the art of searing and serving thick, plump, appropriately-cooked sea scallops, the anticipation was almost palpable. Donnie’s audience was appropriately eating out of the palms of his hands. The dessert course, however, probably heard more moans of delight than anything the preceded it. Donnie whipped up a spectacular version of bananas foster with bourbon, brown sugar, and butter. Flambéed (with a touch of showmanship), and served over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this simple and classic dessert recipe, had everyone (myself included) sending boat loads of compliments to the chef.
Ferneau’s next class is scheduled to be held on Thursday, April 4th from 6-8:30 p.m. This time, they’re planning on taking the classroom outdoors where participants will be enjoying the art of grilling. Per usual, there will be three courses covered, and on this date, Ferneau will be making tacos with handmade tortillas. Wine and sangria will accompany. Classes cost $50 per person. If you’re interested in attending send an email to Thanh Rasico at: email@example.com or follow her @ThanhRasico.