BROOKLYN, NY — To expand upon the trend of cooking and eating healthy, beautiful and exciting presentation of fruit and vegetables has become an essential ingredient in party-making and entertaining. In response to public interest, several great fruit and vegetable garnishing instructional events are on the calendar in Brooklyn. Now, party-planners, caterers, balabustas, and creative types (and, yes, men included) take world-class garnishing training right here.
VeggyArt founder Chef James Parker describes Veggy Art as “a contemporary and attractive way of taking common fruit and vegetables and arranging them to enhance all of your food related events”. In Chef Parker’s previous workshop “Creating Edible Centerpieces” he taught the participants a special technique: how to look at a vegetable and to “see into” its form in order to develop it artistically. This workshop, last October, won rave reviews and an encore was demanded! So Parker, a world-renowned Master Chef whose work has appeared in the White House, and who is based in Chantilly, VA, will return to Brooklyn this winter to direct two fruit and vegetable Garnishing Workshops at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts @ Happy Home. On Sunday, January 13 he will instruct “Creating Edible Flower Bouquets”, and on March 9 a workshop in “Thai Melon Carving”. Usually given in his headquarters in Chantilly Va, these workshops are taken by both experienced and beginning garnishers. When interviewed, even veteran professionals reported they learned new “tricks” and techniques, such as how to choose and use tools and produce. See www.VeggyArt.com for Chef Parker’s beautiful work.
To compound this excitement, meet Chef Ray Duey aka Chef Garnish!, an acclaimed, competition-winning Master who has conducted garde manger (French for garnishing) demonstrations internationally for decades. To quote Chef Ray: “In order to be successful, you have to do something that wows customers and causes people to stop in their tracks and say, Whoa! It’s important to find inspiration, so I seek out ideas and motivation from everything I see. When I go to the botanical gardens, it’s more inspiring than any concert or show, as I fully appreciate the colors and textures, which makes me want to duplicate the magnificence of nature in my food creations.”
With this positive attitude, Chef Ray will lead and inspire students at the “Fruit and Vegetable Garnishing Extravaganza” on Sunday February 3rd. with two workshops: Melon Carving, and Centerpieces from Scraps. This latter workshop is expected to be a boon to those who want to make use of the leftovers from their primary garnishing projects. For a glimpse into some of Chef Ray’s amazing works of art: www.ChefGarnish.com.
It is interesting to note that Thailand has an ancient tradition of cultivating the finest fruit and vegetable carving techniques. In particular, watermelons and other melons, mangos and papayas, lend themselves to multilayered and multicolored creations. Fanciful garnishes have adorned Thai royal tables for many centuries, and numerous schools and institutes of carving are located there. Many of the most highly regarded garnishers, including Chef Parker, have studied there and now share their skills back in America.
Of course, now that chocolate is considered health food (by some) the artistic foodie can also indulge guiltlessly in creating with other sorts of ingredients, too. For example, they can take a “Master Class in Chocolate” taught by Bruce Beck of Bruce’s Best truffles. Chocoholics first learn how to “temper” chocolate, then shape it by hand or with the use of molds. There is a certain amount of chemistry and technique involved, but once mastered….voila!
Once learned, all these food arts and crafts skills lend themselves to hostessing with flair, as well as personal or commercial gifting and basket-making activities. Flatbush, Brooklyn is fast-becoming a center for food crafts of all types. When they are available elsewhere, these classes have not often been appropriate for the kosher consumer.Now, garnishing students at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts can readily dip their tools in the downstairs mikvah and get cutting and carving! To complement the regular program of cake decorating classes, established over 10 years ago at Happy Home, CKCA has developed a full schedule of culinary classes for all ages. Among these are specialized cooking and baking classes (think: Cooking for Diabetics, Gluten-Free Goodies, et al), as well as a Cookbook Author series Including Poopa Dweck (Aromas of Aleppo) and Jamie Geller (Quick and Kosher). For a further information, Happy Home at 1407 Coney Island Ave,718.692.2442 or www.HappyHomePage.com or call Jesse Blonder, Director, The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts 718.513.9934.