"Look, when the world is going into chaos, you have to remain calm... If you don’t, you’re going to join the chaos. You won’t be able to step back and take care of the people you love most.”
On Monday, April 5, Little Professor Bookshop partnered with James Beard Award-winner, Chef Chris Hastings, and Hot & Hot Fish Club to host an incredible virtual cooking class. The event hosted roughly thirty virtual attendees cooking from the comfort of their home kitchens and six in-person couples, who created a live audience at Pepper Place restaurant. And while we knew that the night would be meaningful, one based around food and friends, we could not have anticipated how special the evening would be.
During the first hour and a half, Chef Hastings walked our audience through a custom three-course meal. The menu, crafted solely for this event, included skillet-cooked chicken, seafood risotto, and shaved spring salad with a preserved lemon vinaigrette. Throughout the preparation, Chef Hastings was a diligent instructor and paused regularly to explain his process. Why am I adding oil now? Why use lemon juice instead of vinegar? What does it mean to build flavor into a dish? Audience members, both in-person and virtual, were able to pepper Chef Hastings with questions on the ingredients, the cooking, and the equipment.
Chef Hastings also educated the viewers on sourcing ingredients. Chef Hastings and his restaurants, Hot & Hot Fish Club and OvenBird, are adamant supporters of local farms, growers, and fishermen and source as much of their ingredients as they can from sustainable, local providers. He shared insight on how to find these retailers and the questions they should be asking about the food they procure.
It was a Masterclass and provided viewers with the simple but expert advice that cookbooks and online recipes often miss.
But once the Zoom section ended and the live audience prepared to eat, what unfolded was an intimate conversation between Chef Hastings and the group, one that was equal parts hilarity and substance. The audience moved on from food-based questions to the good stuff – questions about family, parenting, and life during a pandemic.
Chef Hastings talked about the importance of investing time with your kids and being present with them, even when life is moving at an incredible pace. In talking about marriage, Hastings shared his philosophy on “knowing when to die in the ditch” and how central that is for him and his wife Idie, with whom he co-owns all of their businesses. Our audience, many of whom are young parents, could relate to his wisdom. He also shared what the last year has meant to them and how the pandemic has impacted their vision for the future. The group, on top of eating a delicious meal, talked well past the allotted time.
In a year that has so drastically impacted both how we build and how we see community, it was an awesome reminder of what we can look forward to in the coming months!
Thank you to Chef Hastings and his entire team at Hot and Hot Fish Club for creating such a wonderful night for our Little Professor community! Here’s to many more wonderful evenings in the weeks to come!