Review: Chef Jean-Pierre Cooking Class

Cook like a pro!
So you're kicking back in a comfy chair, knocking back a glass -- or three -- of your favorite vino, watching as two chefs passionately prepare course after course of a pre-themed meal while peppering the how-to's with spontaneous and relatable narrative from their lives.

This may sound like yet another lonely night parked in front of the 46-incher with a wine-stained Snuggie and the Food Network to keep you company, but it is in fact a far superior replacement! No need to reply, "cheap Merlot and a repeat of Unwrapped" when your co-worker asks what you did last night.

Chef Jean Pierre's Cooking School (1436 North Federal Hwy Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 954-563-2700) is the brainchild of Chef Jean Pierre Brehier, former owner of the once very successful restaurant, The Left Bank. As he so eloquently explained in his accent-warbled speech, "I owned it for 22 years and it was the best restaurant in town. When I sold it, they destroyed it in 18 months."

It is with that brand of straightforwardness and humor that Chef J-P teaches his nightly classes in a modern kitchen that rivals celebrity chef's TV stage setting. He is down-to-earth and funny, not afraid of making mistakes, and not immune to forgetting a recipe if he hasn't made it recently. And while he has had his taste of international TV fame -- he was the host of two PBS series and appeared many times on Today -- these days he feels more content uploading to YouTube the occasional demo he likes to call, "Gourmet Minutes." "I like to contribute cooking techniques to people who can't come (to the class)," he says.

But why wouldn't you want to go to the class? A cost of $65 per person (unless he has a "celebrity guest chef" when you fork out a few extra dollars) is typically the same price of a good meal at some uninspired restaurant; but here it secures you with the knowledge you need to concoct it yourself, while watching as someone else cooks and neither expects you to tip, clean up or put out when the meal is done.

And while he has yet to make mention of bringing your Snuggie, he does encourage attendees of his classes to bring their own wine or bubbly to sip while he slaves away. Nice.

On the night I attended he was gastronomically guiding us through Italy, but don't look here for ho-hum spaghetti and meatballs. Chef Jean Pierre and his comical sous chef, Brad, welcomed questions -- no matter how novice, advanced or personal  -- while they prepared items that quickly filled the room with mouth-watering aromas. Under their tutelage, a fluffy and flavorful Caramelized Onion & Rosemary Focaccia bread looked simple to make and the creamy Sausage Spaghetti Carbonara forced me consider the possibility of never using jarred sauce again. (Of course, that ultimately depends how much wine I've had while the pasta water is boiling.)

The courses continued to roll out as the chef explained to the class--comprised almost equally of both first-timers and multiple repeat offenders--that we need not hunt for, nor spend money on any ingredients at hoity-toity gourmet markets as everything could be found conveniently at our neighborhood Publix. Thus it becomes quite affordable and user-friendly, no matter how daunting the Minced Chicken and Ham Rotolo with fresh Marinara Sauce seemed.

However, it was the White Chocolate Risotto that garnered the most ooh's, ahh's and yum's from the crowd that evening. Recipe coming up next! 

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