Chef's Retreat

Recently I was a joyful participant in a Chef's Retreat organized by Chef Rosemary Rutland. We spent the weekend savoring good food and friends. Thank you Rosemary for organizing such a fabulous weekend. While most of us were from the Atlanta area, the prize for the farthest traveled goes to Mia Andrew Atkin who traveled from Toronto, ON with second place going to Ellen Grant of Savannah.

On Friday afternoon we met at the Dekalb Farmers Market and spent a couple of hours wheeling our carts up and down the isles. The market has a phenomenal dried spice isle, which is where I spent most of my time. My list of desired spices was about as long as my arm! And the spices are very inexpensive compared to other retail grocers. We also purchased the ingredients that would be needed for our cooking class later that evening. I get there infrequently so am always in awe of the fresh produce, cheeses, breads, fish, and other meats they have, not to mention the incredible variety of dried and canned foods that are a pantheon of flavors from around the world.

From the market we moved on to Cook's Warehouse in Decatur for a wonderful demonstration by renowned Chef Virginia Willis. Virginia is a true southern lady, gracious and entertaining and is passionate not only about food but preserving southern recipes. Bon Appetit, Y'all  Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking was Virginia's first cook book. Recipes such as Meme's Creamed Corn, Fried Catfish Fingers with Country Remoulade, and Aunt Louise's Red Velvet Cake fill the pages. True southern food. On this evening we were treated to samplings from Virginia's upcoming cook book Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: Recipes and Recollections of a Southern Culinary Journey. We began with a three pork pate, moved to a warm lentil salad with shallot vinaigrette, followed by Poulet au Grand-Mere (Grandmother's Chicken) and Savory Monkey Bread, finally finishing with absolutely the best chocolate cake I have ever put in my mouth, Claire's Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. We all needed to be rolled out of there after that! Keep an eye out for Virginia's book. It will be well worth the wait!

Saturday morning we gathered in the kitchen of Chef Rosemary Rutland where she shared Easy Desserts for the Personal Chef. We were thrilled to pick up tips from a real live pastry chef!  True to the name, all of the desserts that Chef Rosemary prepared were truly easy. I especially liked the Chocolate Pot de Creme as it is a no cook recipe. It is so deliciously rich that you will only be able to eat a small amount. That's why shot glasses make the perfect vessel.

We also learned a quicker way to make a White Russian Tirmisu while not taking a single thing away from the flavor. (Hint...lady fingers and a squeeze bottle!) A Rustic Fruit Tart rounded out the trio of desserts. This is a beautiful free form tart that even the a kitchen novice can make perfectly. Rosemary made it with apples and cranberries, which made for a beautiful presentation. After a lunch of burgers, made by Rosemary's husband Tracy (Thanks Tracy!), we savored the trio of desserts. Yum! Thank goodness their house in on a hill as we were all rolling down the drive to get to our cars!

After a much needed nap, we gathered at Cook's Warehouse in Brookhaven for Taste Club Shiraz led my Chef Nancy Waldeck. Chef Nancy took the group through 12 Sharaz wines from around the world. She paired the wines with foods that enhanced their character.

Alas come Saturday morning I was not able to join the group one last time for a Champagne brunch. From all accounts the food that each chef prepared was superb. What a fitting way to close a wonderful weekend of food, fun, and friends.
When's the next retreat?


  1. Hi Lana! My assistant just sent me this link - thanks for the nice review!


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