University School of Nashville annually hosts popular evening classes which are an entertaining way to help out the school’s need-based scholarship endowment while learning at the same time. Always among the most popular offerings are the cooking classes offered by local chefs and presented either in local restaurants or in the kitchens of some really nice homes donated by volunteers. I’ll bet I’ve taken at least two dozen of these classes through the years without ever encountering a clunker. Plus, you get to eat what you learn.
This year, cramming a bunch of hungry students into a restaurant kitchen or in some stranger’s house is pretty much a no-go, so instead USN has decided to change things up a little bit. While it’s always nice to raise a little money for the school (full disclosure: it’s my alma mater at where I serve as a member of the board of trustees), this year the school wants to really spotlight the hospitality industry and try to give a little back to the culinarians who have been so generous with the school through the years.
Their new series is now called “The Restaurant Showcase,” and aims to let the participating chefs share a little more of themselves with current and potential fans through online cooking classes, to-go cocktail classes, take-out meals where you can just chat with one of your chef heroes while you reheat and enjoy your meals or, really, anything that the chef comes up with and wants to do. (Which can be deliciously dangerous when you’re dealing with long-time Evening Classes supporter Deb Paquette!)
The classes will take place over the first few weeks of April, and sign-ups opened at the Evening Classes website this morning at 9:00 am. The most popular ones will go quickly, so I’ve decided to give Bites readers a head start (pulling rank as a trustee and all) by going ahead and compiling all the links to the classes. I’ll also offer a little description for each class plus some commentary. Who knows? You might even see me onscreen moderating a few of these. And I don’t promise not to talk with my mouth full!
Hrant is a fellow USN alum and has been creating some incredible Middle Eastern food at his East Nashville favorite, Lyra. For this class, the chef will put together a box of ingredients for you to pick up in advance and then lead you through the preparation of some Mediterranean marvels.
Best of Nashville winner Bryan Lee Weaver will virtually host a casual brunch talk on the story about how a Texas boy with experience cooking in Colorado and California ended up opening an Israeli restaurant in Nashville. Sounds like a pretty compelling tale.
More disclosure: I was Arnold Myint’s afterschool and summer camp counselor back when he was still known as “Aye” and his mom Patti used to pay me with International Market checks. So we go waaaay back. His interactive dumpling class will unlock the secrets of the bygone shu mai from International Market, and maybe he’ll even dish a little bit about his plans for his next restaurant on Belmont.
Hathorne’s dynamic duo of chef LoJacono and beverage director Teague have put together everything you need for a night of fun at home, including the ingredients for two cocktails and two helpings of their popular gnocchi dish. Tune in as they take you through the preparation of the eats and drinks and answer any Q’s you might A.
Will Radford is the owner of Local Distro in Salemtown and a fellow USN board member with me. If you haven’t visited his convivial bodega/restaurant, here’s your chance when you pick up all the fixin’s to prepare the Distro’s famous Fajita Chicken Tacos and Akil’s Avocado Bean & Cheese Tacos.
Chef Julia Sullivan is another USN alumna (We’re everywhere!) and wants to help you bring the Henrietta Red experience home. She’ll concentrate on the humble bivalve with an evening of exploration of the oyster, accompanied by a signature HR cocktail.
I meant what I said about a class taught by Deb. They’re liable to go anywhere including delightfully off the rails, but the food is always magnificent and the atmosphere is nothing but fun. Which is to say, this one will sell out almost instantaneously. She’ll be taking you through the preparation of four small plates from the special Valentine’s menu at etc., and then you’ll eat them. Frivolity will ensue!
Leave it to a chef as intelligent as Richard Jones from the Treehouse to actually bring a little extra education into these classes, and good on ya’, Mate. The Aussie chef will explore the path of exotic spices along the Silk Road and how that has affected the modern palates of diners all the way over here on a different continent. Plus, you’ll get a mostly-assembled meal for you to heat up and eat up while you study up.
Chef Hal’s daytime classes through the years at USN are some of my favorites. Since Lockeland Table is usually only open at night, it always felt a little naughty to be day drinking in his holy space, but he always made us feel welcome and comfortable. (The mimosas helped.) You can get the same experience at home with a menu of biscuits with a Porter Road Butcher sausage gravy and a side of (farm fresh) egg and a sweet potato home fry, washed down with a refreshing Aperol Spritz while the chef demonstrates how to prepare the food and drink. Sign me up!
If you know how to make a proper tiramisu, you’ll always impress when it comes time to serve the dessert. Not everyone knows that in addition to running a restaurant, manning the massive pizza oven, making charcuterie and cooking some fantastic Italian food, chef Tony Galzin is also famously talented in the pastry kitchen. Take some tips from this renaissance chef as you learn to make tiramisu from scratch using the provided materials.
Leave it to a restaurant like Husk to take a humble dish like grits and elevate it to mythical status, but that’s exactly what Katie Coss achieves in her kitchen. Starting out with learning the fascinating history of stone-ground corn and the definitive method to properly cook it, you’ll discover the secrets of Husk’s iconic shrimp and grits and make them your own.
It’s almost a shame that Trey Cioccia has two successful restaurants (in pandemic terms) with The Farm House and Black Rabbit, because that means he doesn’t have as much time to come out of the kitchen and share his cheerful demeanor with diners. So instead, USN has cornered him and drug him in front of the camera so you can have him all to yourself for an Old Fashioned Taco Happy Hour. There will be tacos. There will be Old Fashioneds. It will be big fun!
If you’re a regular at Thai Esane, you know that the incredible Thai cuisine is only part of the reason to visit. The other is the chance to talk with owner Nina Singto, one of the most ebullient personalities in Nashville hospitality. With numerous appearances on national cooking competition shows, you know she’s great in front of a camera. So it’s sure to be a hoot when she leads this virtual class through the process of creating Thai Esane’s popular Red Curry with Chicken dish. You’ll also be able to put out the fire with a Lychee Fizz cocktail to finish up the evening.
Don’t miss out on these classes! Sign up now at the Evening Classes website.