Napa: The Chefs

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I’ve got more for you today about my Napa adventure at Bush’s Beans Flavors from Around the World Event.   One entire day was spent at the Culinary Institute at Greystone.  You know if the Culinary Institute is involved, you are going to have good food.  We started our day there with breakfast.  It was divine!  At Napa the Chefs each contributed a dish to our breakfast with the exception of Jeffrey Saad.  We would get his dish later as a snack.

Napa: The Chefs |

Daisy Martinez made Chili-Spiked Hot Chocolate which was delish. 

It only included a pinch of ground chili along with cinnamon.  It was a perfect balance of spice along with the chocolate.  Michael Schulson provided us with an egg sandwich with crispy bacon and pickled shallots.  This was made on a french baguette and the pickled shallots were a surprisingly welcomed addition to this sandwich. Last was a dish from Connie Gutterson which was my favorite dish that morning.  Her recipe was a Fritta with kidney beans, roasted pepper, tomato and pepper.  The beans in the dish actually worked well.  You don’t usually think of eating eggs with beans.  The pesto and fresh herbs in this dish really gave it a nice fresh flavor.

Napa: The Chefs |
My Breakfast!

After breakfast in Napa, the Chefs each introduced themselves to the group and then it was time to get to work.  Chef Andrew Wild gave us a run down of how the kitchen works and the rules.  I must say, at this point, I was feeling a little intimated about being in such an official kitchen.  We put on our aprons and headed into the kitchen.

We started with a demo from Jeffrey Saad. 

He definitely has a passion for food that is very exciting and contagious.  Jeffrey was encouraging us to play with our food, everything that goes against what most of us are taught as young children.  He showed us how to use a chefs knife and asked for  a volunteer to give chopping some cabbage a try.  No one was volunteering, I think we were all feeling the pressure of doing such a task in front of an actual chef.  I ended up taking the opportunity.  It was fun and I got a chef’s knife of my own as a result.  That was definitely worth the slight feeling of embarrassment that I felt as I chopped that cabbage.

Napa: The Chefs |
I’m chopping that cabbage!


Next up was Michael Schulson. 

It was interested to see how each Chef’s approach to food and the kitchen varies just like a person’s personality.  Michael seemed very efficient and organized when it comes to his kitchen.  He showed us some fantastic kitchen tips.  My favorite tip was how to cut citrus for juicing.  You cut on the ends of your lime, lemon, etc. then stand it up on one end.  Then cut the citrus with three cut leaving a triangle in the center.  Discard the triangle, this will have all the seeds in it.  Then squeeze the remaining pieces to get the juice.  No need for a fancy juicer now!

Napa: The Chefs |
The lemon instruction.


After the demos from Jeffrey and Michael, we were split into two groups. 

One went with Jeffrey to make Seared Scallop Tacos with Black Bean Puree and Green Chile Chutney. The other group went with Michael to make Pinto Bean Falafel with Garbanzo Bean Hummus and Cilantro, Lemon Sour Cream. I was assigned to Jeffrey’s group which I was excited to be in, due to the fact that my family loves any type of Mexican cuisine.

Chef Michael Schulson instructing his group


The recipe looked long and complicated but turned out to be fun. 

I learned how to cook scallops, which is something I have never done.  I love to eat them but I have never made them.  The great thing about this recipe is you can go all out and do the recipe as it is.  There are also some things you can do to simplify it.  We decided to forgo making the beans into a puree and just leave them chunky.  I love this and it added a nice texture to the taco with the whole beans.  Another great thing about this recipe is you can take elements of the dish and use them in a different way.  The beans would have been great to make as a side dish by themselves.

Napa: The Chefs |
I’m cookin’ scallops!


My group with Chef Jeffrey Saad

After this, it was time for lunch and we got to eat what we all made. 

Plus, they had pre-made the dishes that Daisy and Connie were going to have us make after lunch.  We got to sample them all at one time.  It was delicious.  Michael’s falafel was fabulous.  I had never had falafel before but I am now a falafel fan.  His recipe also had pieces that could be taken from the dish and used other ways.

Napa: The Chefs |
The Falafel

Now that we all stuffed ourselves with this yummy food, it was time to go back into the kitchen.  Daisy Martinez was up next for the demo.  She showed us how to prepare a tomato in order to stuff it.  After that, Connie Gutterson talked to us about how you can make food that is good for you and have it taste good too.

Daisy working on her stuffed tomatoes.


Then it was time to divide again into groups. 

One group would work with Daisy making Rosemary Scented White Beans in Baked Tomato.  I never would have thought to stuff a tomato let alone stuff it with beans.  It was actually quite tasty.  The other group, which I was in, made Gigi Salad on Whole Wheat Pita Flatbread with White Bean and Artichoke Spread.  This was all fabulous.  The salad had a delicious dressing along with shrimp, oranges, jicama, pomegranate, and avocado.   The white pita bread was so tasty with the spread.  I love artichokes and I never would have thought to put them in a spread with white beans.

After all of this it was snack time. 

This recipe was courtesy of Jeffrey Saad.  There is no pictures of this one because I think we all gobbled it up before anyone could take pictures.  We had Nutella Crepes. You know I love Nutella but I have never had it on crepes.  Let me just say that even though we were all pretty full from the food from the day up to this point, I think those crepes were all gone in minutes.  The crepe was divine.  The crepe itself was perfection, not too thick and not to thin with the perfect amount of sponginess to them.  Then to be schmeared with Nutella, rolled up and sprinkled with powdered sugar, it just melted in my mouth. I swear I need to make these again so I can stop dreaming about them each night.  Now, I love a good crepe and this was the bomb.
I have one final post for you tomorrow to wrap up Napa and I will talk about the Culinary institute, so stay tuned.

Napa: The Chefs |
Connie holding a platter of the GiGi Salad

All photos in today’s post, with the exception of my breakfast, were by photographer Faith Echtermeyer who can be found at  Thanks for the beautiful photos Faith!

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