The cooking lesson was with one of Charleston’s celebrity chefs, Bob Waggoner
Chef Bob is by far more than just your average super chef.
He was trained under Great Chef Michael Roberts at Trumps (before The Donald) in Los Angeles.
He then traveled to France and worked under another dozen Michelin-starred chefs for several years, then down to Venezuela for a year to work under Jean-Paul Coupal.
In 1986 he returned to France as chef at the Hotel de la Poste in Avallon. Two years later, he opened his own restaurant, Le Monte Cristo, in Monéteau. In 1991, he closed the restaurant to join Jean-Pierre Silva at Le Vieux Moulin.
In 1994, he returned to the U.S. to work at the Wild Boar in Nashville. The restaurant received numerous awards.
In 1996, the Great Chefs television team showed up to tape Chef Bob for the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the South series. This led Chef Bob to his own cooking show on PBS and later Turner South, in part because of his cooking but also due to his large personality we soon found out.
About the same time, the management of Great Chefs received a call from the general manager of the Charleston Inn, saying that they were in immediate need of a Great Chef. Chef Bob was put together with the Charleston Place Inn management, and the following week Chef Bob Waggoner became the new executive chef of the $1000 per night Charleston Place Inn in Charleston, South Carolina.
Our evening was marketed as a dinner party with 8 other interesting people. We were to create a 3 course meal, using fresh, local ingredients as well as the executive chef ways of preparing those items.
We mingled a bit at first, finding out about our other chef trainees and coaxed on with bottomless glasses of a French pink Champagne. Bob mingled as well and we all got to hear some of his stories in a very down-to-earth manner (he is a funny guy)
Bob had everything prepped for us
Here are the trays of ingredients for a duck entree in front of us. The ingredients for a sea scallop recipe were on the other side of the U-shaped prep table.
I want to tell you what these recipes are called but…..
I don’t remember.
Call it old age.
Call it my beginning of dementia.
Call it the four glasses of pink champagne that I had before we started prepping dinner.
And Yes, I don’t remember what the name of the pink champagne was either but it was good!
I guess I should have taken notes.
Thankfully I did bring my camera.
First we made a dessert sauce reduction using 2 bottles of wine and a handful of fruits and spices.
This simmered the whole night while we cooked.
Next Bob had us prep the sea scallops recipe using the ingredients he already prepped for us
Here are a few cooking tips he gave us.
1) When slicing, cut with the back end of the knife. Keep the sharp end on the cutting board
2) He uses Grape Seed oil as his vehicle for seasoning pans. It gives off virtually no taste and you can cook with it at extremely high temperatures.
Not hot temperatures.
Stupid Hot temperatures.
3) If you are in a sea food store looking for scallops ask for the ‘Dry Packed’ scallops.
He tells us most scallops come off the vessels and are put into a large tank where they are iced down but also some preservatives are added.
These can be seen when you cook the scallops and a milky white liquid comes out from the bottom. As you can see above there is milky liquid coming out of these puppies.
Its just fresh fresh scallops and some seasoning.
No off flavors.
We seared the scallops on Stupid Hot heat then sauteed the vegetables prepped for the sauce.
We finished cooking the sauce, laid it on our plates and placed some prize scallops on top.
Time to taste this treat we expertly made (thanks Chef Bob).
The second course was a fantastic Duck recipe.
I forget the name but its in his cookbook.
Well I have to be honest,
I can’t pronounce the recipe either.
It was in French.
We used some sugar snap peas, sliced onion, some fresh honey, blueberries, a kumquat, and about a cup of Cabernet.
We all stood at our amazing cooking stations, first searing the duck to hold in the juiced and then baking the duck with some duck grease (think bacon grease but better) to keep it moist and yummy!
We got to hear more stories and jokes while the product cooked.
Q. Why were we using metal spatulas on the high priced Teflon saute pans?
A. Because Mrs. Waggoner was not there to tell him he couldn’t.
The duck finished.
We dressed it and viola:
Our well traveled restaurateur prize winning host DID admit….
restaurants can / may charge $5 extra
just for drizzling the sauce around the side of the plates, like above.
Can you see in the sauce?
Cabernet, blueberries, a kumquat and some honey sweet onions.
Finally. we placed some fresh berries in a dessert cup. added some yummy vanilla ice cream over top and then the reduced dessert sauce of wine, cloves, and other ingredients that I cant spell.
So in the end, I made my wife a wonderful three course dinner including
” expertly” prepared dry-packed sea scallops as well as a nice tender slice of duck.
I made it for myself and she made hers.
But she DID have a fab birthday dinner overseen by a very talented Chef,
as well as Chef Waggoner.
and lots of wine.
Oh wait, that was me,
but she didn’t mind.
The dinner was a breeze.
The object was to please
my wife as she smiled and said
“car keys” please.
That’s it for now knuckleheads.
I’ll try to do a better job next time.
Until then be safe and show someone some gratitude.