Cayman’s very own Emeril

Executive chef at the Lighthouse restaurant, Remy Azavedo, knew he had something good up his sleeve when he re-launched his popular cooking classes last year.

Chef Azavedo had already held a series of cooking classes prior to Hurricane Ivan. After the storm, the restaurant was closed for 18 months for renovations, which included installing a studio kitchen.

Now, the studio kitchen is the ideal location for the chef’s Saturday afternoon cookery classes, held weekly for groups of up to 10 people.

Attending one of the cooking classes feels like sitting in on the filming of a show on the Food Network, except the lessons are interactive, with students being encouraged to prepare food and ask questions. Students can often learn from each other, as was evident in a lesson on Saturday, 30 May, which was also attended by Nancy Rohleder of Vigoro Nursery.

When Chef Azavedo was making arugula salad, Ms Rohleder pointed out that arugula can be grown outside here: just another tasty tip to go home with.

Chef Azavedo keeps the tips coming – from useful advice on how to squeeze a lemon while avoiding getting pips into the food to how to cut an onion without tearing up (okay, this one is not recommended for trying at home: it took many years of skill for him to be able to chop an onion with his eyes closed!).

Chef Azavedo chooses the recipes of the day from previous dishes on the Lighthouse restaurant menu as well as dishes he has created in the past.

At the end of last Saturday’s class, students walked away having consumed and learned how to prepare a Portobello mushroom with vinaigrette and gorgonzola cheese on a bed of tomatoes and arugula, make tuna skewers with charmoula (a Middle Eastern spice mix) and lemon couscous and whip up a dessert of crêpes with candied apples and caramel sauce.

An entertaining and vibrant teacher, whose dynamic presentation style allows a comparison to the popular TV chef Emeril, Chef Azavedo guides students through the preparation and cooking of three courses – an appetiser, a main course and a dessert. Recipes are printed and ready for each student on their placemats. That’s right – their placemats: after each course is prepared students get to enjoy the food so they can tell whether it is something they would want to make at home.

Although professional chefs are known for making things look much easier than they really are, Chef Azavedo’s recipes are not time-consuming, and three courses can easily be made and eaten within the two-hour cooking class.

This time even allows for a break in which the restaurant’s bartender Martin Dohal steps into the kitchen to educate the class on the featured wine of the day, providing them with a taste and explaining how to best sample wine – starting with the appearance, the smell and finally, the taste.

The cooking classes are becoming so popular they are often booked up one or two weeks in advance. An entire class can be reserved for groups of 10. For just $35, students receive instructions, a live cooking demonstration and lesson and a three-course meal complete with wine. It is difficult to think where else on island such a bargain could be found.

For more information on the classes, go online to lighthouse.ky or email Chef Azavedo to be added to his mailing list and receive weekly menus and a chance to sign up for the class at [email protected].

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