This week by far has been one of the most exhausting, exhilarating, tiring and thought provoking week in a while. But it wouldn’t have happened had I not been sponsored by my beyond amazing sponsors, Jarlsberg & Wild Hibiscus. It’s Friday, August 8th and I’ve just finished four hearty days of the Adult Culinary Bootcamp at Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge. And in all honesty, I enjoyed and took in every single second of it. I’m even thinking of pursuing my dream and going to culinary school. It’s been a thought of mine ever since I started blogging but I may pursuit it after I do my research and pick the right school for me.
I was extremely fortunate to have taken bootcamp with three awesome ladies, two who were local and one who travelled a bit. They were all so sweet, fun and eager to cook. But we were all lucky to be taught by Chef Ashton Keefe these four days. Ashton is heavily involved in the food industry and has been featured on the Food Network, amongst other well known publications and outlets. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been taught by her this week.
The first day was one of the most exhausting but I learned so much. We went over culinary basics which included knife skills, simple & easy chicken recipes including roasting chicken, eggs basics like poached eggs (my fave), ricotta and more. Definitely things that can be used in a variety of recipes and our meal was deliciously rewarding.
I will admit I’m not a huge baker or into pastry but Ashton showed us how to make easy doughs, pies, tarts, and breads. They all were so easy and definitely recipes and techniques I’ll use when I bake going forward. I felt comfortable and had fun, I’ve been eating our leftovers from that day since, chocolate strawberry scones anyone?!
The third day we got a tour of my favorite grocery store, Whole Foods in Marlboro. It was nice to take a tour from a shoppers perspective. As always the experience was amazing. We used a lot of budget and pantry friendly ingredients alongside seasonal produce at the store and scallops. I really admired how quickly Ashton improvised and came up with a menu. All the recipes were easy and didn’t take too long. Each day was very hands on when it came to prepping or mise en plas. We were able to master the perfect seared scallop, two salads, and more. So fresh and delish!
Our last day was amazing to me. We took a tour of Samaha’s Farm in Colts Neck. They are a GMO free farm and affiliated with the Rutger’s program. We got to harvest our veggies which included squash blossoms, zucchini, sweet & white corn and more. We also stopped by the country farm market, which I highly recommend stopping by. The prices are such a steal & deal for the product they have. After the tour we went back into the kitchen to prepare a fun, improved meal again which included pork chops, tomato salad, roasted eggplant and more. It was all so delish and paired well with the Domaine Select Wine Estates Pinot Grigio they had on hand at Heirloom Kitchen.
Thank you again Ashton for teaching me some basics I was nervous to conquer and helping me to feel comfortable improvising. Also I have to mention the staff of Heirloom Kitchen. The owners of Heirloom Kitchen, Judy and Neilly are so passionate about the business and bringing top knotch, hands-on, culinary programs to the area. The boutique shop inside is awesome and ideal for an aspiring chef and foodie. The kitchen set up is perfect and unique. Ideal for classes of 12 or less, its easy to navigate in too!
I look forwarding to covering one of their regular cooking classes in the future. I’m intrigued by the upcoming schedule which includes Israeli cooking to classic Italian! I’m so thankful for this experience. Stay tuned because i’ll be posting some recipes using Jarlsberg and Wild Hibiscus this week with all the techniques I’ve learned. I promise you they will be nourishing, healthy, and delish!
Cheers to eating and drinking well! Mangia!