Excited shrieks, glasses of Bordeaux, and the aroma of lavender and pork flowed through the kitchen at The Food Liaison as a dozen enthusiastic cooking students gathered for an evening of a petit education in the art of preparing a classic French feast.
“We seem to be the flavor of the month,” said Nirasha Rodriguez, the chef who opened the catering/cooking class/lunch-counter business in Carpinteria two months ago with her husband, Jason. The couple personally designed every aspect of the new space, from the functional high tables to the geometric light fixtures and tiles, which gives it their signature style. “We are excited to bring people into our kitchen,” she said. “I want this to be a community space.”
Their upcoming lessons, which cost $75-$95, feature various techniques and styles, from the classics and appetizers to Southern and “super” foods. “I want the classes to be more of a story — I want to know the heart of the food,” said Rodriguez, who was a private chef to wealthy clients and celebrities in Montecito for the past decade. “It’s important to remember how intimate food is. You have to taste that love and special moment in the food.”
Though her hard work and sensitive palate certainly help, Rodriguez believes, “If you have a passion for something, it just comes naturally.” Such passion is contagious because for by the end of the night, some students were already signing up for the next installment on their iPhones for fear that they would will miss their chance to taste la vie en rose with Nirasha and Jason once again.
What We Cooked
Coq au Vin: “If you’ve ever had a rooster, it’s very tough, but the wine breaks it down and gives it flavor,” said Rodriguez, whose class used organic chickens from Sage Hill Farms in Carpinteria to make a savory French rooster stew with onions, carrots, bits of pork, and, of course, wine.
Radicchio Salad with Goat Cheese: “We Americans aren’t as used to it as the French,” said Rodriguez of this red-cabbage-like vegetable. This salad cleanses the palate after the heavy stew.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes: The coq au vin is best served with potatoes, smashed peas, or another starch that can soak the stew’s wine and stock juices. “I like comfort food with a healthy twist on it,” said Rodriguez. “I cook rustic but beautiful.”
The Food Liaison is located at 1033 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria. Call (805) 200-3030 or see thefoodliaison.com.