New Orleans School of Cooking, Morning Class Part 1

new orleans school of cooking class

I love cooking and I always want to learn about the history of food, different techniques, and unique recipes.  Every time I see cooking classes online I always want to sign up.  So when I found out that New Orleans School of Cooking was only a couple of blocks from our hotel, I knew I had to sign us up.  As a matter of fact, I signed us up for two classes.

new orleans school of cooking class

Since the school was so close to our hotel, we arrived a little early for our morning class.  It was a good thing we did because there were so many fun things to look at in their little shop.  Shelves and counters were filled with spices, books, jams, jellies, and even pralines they make right in the shop.

tabasco pepper jelly

Look at all these Tabasco products! Ehhh I love pepper jellyyyyyyyyyyyy…

tabasco spicy beans

I had no idea they even made Spicy Beans.  I bet they would be delicious in a Bloody Mary.

Chef Michael DeVidts New Orleans School of Cooking

As the room filled up, Chef Michael DeVidts walked out and introduced himself.  He called roll, answered a few questions, and the then led us to the classroom.

cooking classes in New Orleans

Before the cooking (and eating) began, he started off with a brief history of New Orleans and how his passion for cooking started.  It was really interesting because he was able to explain to us how New Orleans cuisine is really a blend of different cultures.  Little did I know that French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and African cultures all have influenced Creole food.  Then he went on to explain to us that Cajun food actually came from the Acadians that immigrated from Nova Scotia.  If you want to read more about the history of New Orleans food, checkout The History of Creole and Cajun Cuisine.

New Orleans biscuits

As he spoke, we each received a biscuit to munch on.  Chef Michael suggested we tried dipping it in some of their Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup and Cajun Power Sweet Treat.

Steen's Pure Cane Syrup

The pure cane syrup was so delicious!  The flavor is complex and reminded me of sweet caramel with a touch of bitterness from burnt sugar.  It’s definitely sweet, but it’s not in your face.  Steen’s have been around since 1910 and is still a staple on many Louisianans’ breakfast tables.  They still harvest the sugar cane at the peak of ripeness and press it for it’s sugary juices.  Once the juices are cooked and its clarity and consistency are perfect, they bottle it.

Cajun Power Sweet Treat

Next up was Cajun Power Sweet Treat.  The taste is familiar to me because it reminded me of Mexican Churros.  It’s a blend of cinnamon, sugar, and pure vanilla.  It would probably be delicious on buttered toast or even on a cappuccino.

cooking New Orleans roux

As we ate our biscuits, Chef Michael began to teach us the fundamentals of making a good roux.  I’ve made roux before but I had no idea that you could make any other color besides light brown (think chicken gravy).  As he talked, he began to cook this roux from a thin white color, to a thick warm brown, then suddenly it was a gritty dark chocolate brown.

different colors of roux

WOW! Apparently that’s how you get those amazing flavors in gumbos and jambalayas.  Every New Orleans secret family recipe has specific color of roux they preferred, so he encouraged us to experiment making all the colors before settling on one.

new orleans school of cooking

As he chit chatted some more, he started working on the gumbo recipe.  Boiling the stock, sauteing the “Holy Trinity” (Onions, Celery, Green Pepper), adding the stock into the vegetables, and even going back to the map to point out more history.  He was a master multitasker!

new orleans school of cooking abita beer

As he began to ladle the gumbo, we were offered a drink of choice.  Since we were in Louisiana, we had to try their hometown Abita beer.  I’m not a beer aficionado, but it was light, smooth, and went very well with our lunch.

New Orleans School of Cooking Gumbo

Here’s the finished gumbo.  It was so good!  The flavors were so deep that it must have come from his dark roux.  I added a little bit more File, and it thickened my gumbo just a bit more.  Even though it was delicious on its own, I was a little sad that I had eaten up my biscuit so quickly.  I kept imagining how delicious it would have been if I had some left to dip into the gumbo… lol

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our morning class at New Orleans School of Cooking.

New Orleans School of Cooking / Wikipedia History of Louisiana Cooking / New Orleans School of Cooking Online Store

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2 comments

  1. Lori Wilson

    Wow, so glad i found your blog. I just came back from New Orleans last week. I too took the cooking class with Chef Michael. He and the class was awesome. Class was gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding, and pralines. Unfortunately i didn’t think of bringing a pen. I kept stealing the lady’s next to me to take notes when i could. Will you be posting his gumbo recipe? It was different than the one the class was given. I think i missed a couple of things. Anyways, i loved all the pictures you posted. It was like i was back there again. Have a good holiday season!

    • Jen

      Hi Lori!! Wasn’t that class awesome? I really really loved Chef Michael. He was so funny and knowledgable. Wow you guys made bread pudding? How was it? I sat next to another couple that attended a bread pudding class and said it was amazing. I think I will definitely be making the gumbo again so I’ll shoot you a message when I do :D Check back because I’ll be posting the rest of the class as well as our afternoon class where we learned Crab and Corn Bisque, Chicken Étouffée, and more pralines.

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