At the Country Club of Asheville, members enjoy tastes of fine wine alongside gourmet paired bites at Chef Bruce McIntosh’s chef-led cooking demo dinners. “I call them demos instead of classes,” Chef Bruce explains. “I prepare the food in front of members, so they can see what I’m doing and learn from it, but then it’s plated for them to enjoy.”
The dinners began by happenstance and as an extension of the club community. Chef Bruce knew a group of men at the club who wanted to have a special celebratory dinner on Tuesday nights, when dinner service is closed. To make the meal memorable, he thought to utilize the club’s spacious kitchen outfitted with a large wooden block table.
Members sat around the table, and Chef Bruce made every course to order right there in the kitchen. The evening was a success, and the men raved about it enough to spread the word. Soon, another group wanted a private kitchen dinner, and then another. Chef Bruce decided to make it a regular occurrence. “But I wanted to take it a step further,” he says.
Now, demo dinners involve five or six small-plate-sized courses and shared bottles of wine. When they arrive, members receive a printout with the recipes for a few of the courses (never all of them, because “I like to keep an element of surprise for a few of the courses,” Chef Bruce says). There’s also a space to take notes on any tricks and techniques gleaned from watching the chef at work. Some members take ample notes and others sit back and enjoy — both are welcomed and encouraged. “It’s a real social event,” Chef Bruce says. Between the convivial gathering, the quality time with the chef, and the ability to recreate recipes at home, the dinners are truly something special. “We’re enjoying offering something different to our members.”
Bites by Bruce
These two easy appetizer recipes from Chef Bruce make winter entertaining a breeze.
1 pound mushrooms 1 tablespoon olive oil 8 shallots, julienned
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1⁄4 cup white wine
1⁄2 cup espagnole sauce (available at grocery stores) salt and pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley 1 tablespoon butter toast points, for serving
Directions: Heat sauté pan and add olive oil. Add mushrooms and shallots, then sauté. After one minute, add garlic, salt, and pepper. Add white wine and reduce. Finish by adding brown sauce (espag- nole), parsley, and butter. Serve over toast points. Serves 8
1 15-ounce can artichokes
8 ounces spinach, chopped
16 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
tortilla chips and pita bread, for serving shredded cheese of choice, for garnish
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Puree artichokes and cream cheese. Fold in seasonings and spinach and spread into serving dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups