“Tell us about the best meal you ever cooked.”
The best meal I ever cooked was actually planned and prepared not by me alone, but as part of a team with 6 of the most amazing women you could ever hope to meet. It was our graduation dinner from the Natural Gourmet Institute, a 35-year-young health-supportive culinary school in New York City.
The theme was Native Americana, a celebration of ingredients and recipes that originated in the New World, and this was our menu:
CHIPPEWA MAPLE-MINT SPRITZER
CATTAIL CASHEW CANAPÉ
Cattail pollen and acorn flour cracker with basil-cashew cheese and pickled strawberry
CHILLED AVOCADO SOUP AND NASTURTIUM-SUNCHOKE SALAD
Raw avocado-cucumber soup garnished with organic popcorn and fresh parsley oil
Frisée and mâche with pickled jerusalem artichokes, caramelized fennel, and smokey carrot chips on a bed of nasturtium leaves with an orange tarragon dressing
THE THREE SISTERS
Grilled crookneck squash filled with lemon-sage anasazi beans and a roasted corn purée
Accompanied by a wild rice and currant salad, sautéed dandelion and chard greens, and garnished with roasted red pepper sauce and tomato chip
Maple-drizzled cornmeal and spelt flour cake with vanilla bean coconut ice cream, blueberry-cranberry compote and a salted dark chocolate bark speckled with hazelnuts and dried blueberries
No matter where my culinary journey takes me, I will always be proud of this meal. Not only was it the culmination of life-changing experience, but it was an unforgettable lesson in how a positive collaboration can create something much greater than any one chef could have imagined.
CTP 192: Melinda Boumans (that’s me), Madeleine Dodge, Jill Piatkowski-Kane, Debbie King, Sara May, Shelley Page, and Luba Vcherashansky, under the guidance of Chef Instructor Celine Beitchman