Sunday, March 16, 2014

Couples Cooking Class

Kristen Manieri, of Great Dates Orlando, invited me to sketch a couples cooking class held in the demonstration kitchen above East End Market, (3201 Corrine Dr. Orlando, FL.) I arrived about an hour early to sketch in the layout of the kitchen before the couples arrived. The demonstration was completely sold out. The $120 class fee per couple included utensils, recipes, ingredients and sit-down dinner for two, but BYOS (bring your own spirits).

Jes Tantalo, East End Market's Chef-in-Residence, was busy with preperations when Terry and I arrived. Terry went to explore East End Market and then Stardust Video and Coffee while I sketched. We planned to go to Drip on International Drive after my sketch was done. Kristen helped out by making recipe cards for the guests before they arrived. Her iPhone was used to fill the room with romantic Italian music. A large banquet table filled the dining room next to the kitchen. Fresh flowers from the extensive gardens downstairs were put on the table as centerpieces.

The first order of business was to have all the couples create flat bread appetizer perfect for noshing on while everyone sipped wine and dove into the menu sourced almost entirely from East End’s gourmet purveyors downstairs. Everyone crowded around the counter that separated the kitchen and dining area. Each couple took some flat bread and spread goat cheese on it, sprinkled some olive oil and then cracked open a tiny dime sized quail egg on top. Fresh arugula, again from the garden downstairs was added as a garish along with a pinch of salt and pepper. One fellow put a mountain of arugula on his flat bread and he was playfully scolded by the other couples. There was plenty of camaraderie and laughter as everyone worked.

The main dish was Poussin, or baby chickens, for each person. All that was required was some seasoning before they were put in the ovens. The flat bread appetizers were done in a flash and then all the couples sat at the table sipping wine and talking. In the kitchen, Jes was still busy cooking fresh local vegetables marinated in Whisky. One adventurous guest was put in charge of cutting up a football sized turnip. I had to close my eyes when he struggled with the first loud slice. Fox 35 News reporter Jackie Orozco introduced herself. She was intrigued by my daily sketch journalism and is considering the idea of reporting about what I do. With the retrospective exhibit coming up, her timing couldn't be better.

Terry stopped back. I hadn't started adding color yet. This was a more challenging sketch than usual with so many people crowded in the foreground. When she left I sketched faster. I left before the Poussin came out of the oven. I rushed out to catch up for my own date night, but I was to late. She got a taxi to take her to International Drive to see Drip perform a show with black lights. Perhaps I should have abandoned the sketch. A better person would have done that. As I drove home alone, I realized I was extremely hungry. I hadn't eaten all day except for tasting one of the flat bread appetizers Kristen had offered me. I pulled into a Subway and ordered a Flatizza which is sort of a flat bread pizza. It wasn't very exotic, but it filled me up for the moment. Much later I picked Terry up from Drip. Apparently it had been an amazing show. She was soaking wet and covered in paint.

Mark Your Calendar! The next Couples Cooking Class is April 12 from 7pm to 9:30pm at East End Market.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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