Out and About: Collaboration Kitchen with Chef Katherine Humphus
I've had a love affair with cooking for almost my entire life. I learned from my grandmother and from countless years of "playing around" in my mom's kitchen. Lacking formal instruction was a bonus, it allowed me to literally get my hands dirty by experimenting with flavors, food, and combinations. I was never afraid to attempt something, nor to serve half-concocted ideas to friends who played guinea pig to countless meals.
I never got tired of cooking, or playing in the kitchen, but as I got older, I wanted a better understanding of how food works, how science applies to baking (a concept I still struggle with), and how different methods of cooking, can achieve different results. To this end, about 17 years ago, my friend and fellow food enthusiast, Nayo and I decided to take cooking classes at a local cooking store. We went once a month for around 4 years - until she moved away. These classes were amazing. Not only were they taught by local chefs (both culinary instructors and restaurant executives), but they included two glasses of wine, a full recipe booklet, and large tastes of 6-10 dishes. It was a dinner and a class rolled into one. We loved them. And they gave me so much knowledge about the right equipment to use, where to go for my meat and seafood needs, what restaurants to avoid, and only reinforced my love of anything food related. It was my home away from home.
After Nayo moved, and I ended up pregnant with twins, cooking classes sat on the back burner for quite some time. I was at home, soon with four littles, four and under, and making all my own baby and toddler food from scratch. That was a fun time, and although I had so much fun with it I missed the interaction I had with other foodies, with creating relationships with local chefs, and the discourse that comes with sharing a love of food and fresh ingredients.
Enter my fellow mom of preemie twins and food enthusiast Janice. I'm not sure if she had any idea what I was getting her into when I talked her into going to classes with me, especially since the cooking school had lost their liquor license and no longer served two glasses of complementary wine to go with each class, but she came anyway, and once again monthly classes became a part of my life. In the several years since I had last attended classes, some of the teachers had changed, some had stayed the same, but I had garnered even more knowledge about food. Classes became less about learning food combinations and recipes, and more about discovering techniques and food specific methods. We learned how to break down a fish, different ways to cook ribs, and how to select farm fresh vegetables. We took classes with chefs who's methods we respected, and who's food philosophy paralleled ours. And along the way, we made friends. Good friends.
Super long backstory, I know. But bear with me, I'm getting to the point.
One of my most favorite people, whom I met along my San Diego food journey, is Chef Katherine Humphus. You may know her as the creator of the famous Bo-beau Brussel Sprouts (yes, I have the recipe), and for single-handedly spurring on the Brussel revolution in San Diego. Almost every restaurant in town has some version of them, but none are equal to the original. As someone who adores brussels, and who has been serving her own version of a thyme, apple, bacon Brussel sprout dish for thanksgiving for the past 17 years, this really resonates!
Kat is no longer the executive chef at Bo-beau; however she owns her own food delivery service - Savory Made Simple, where you can cook "along side" her, using pre-prepped food and her recipes to create three amazing meals each week.
Sadly, the store in which I spent so many food filled hours is no longer. There are no more monthly cooking classes for me. Thankfully, I am lucky to live in a food-centric city, where foodie experiences abound. One of my favorites is Collaboration Kitchen. Here, a local chef pairs with Catalina Offshore Seafood to create individual dishes, to talk about their food, and to prepare dinner for the attendees. You learn a lot about seafood, how to prepare it, and where you should buy it (Catalina Offshore). It's held in the middle of the seafood warehouse, on folding chairs, and in a temporary kitchen, and it sells out. Every. Time. Not to mention the food is always on point. It's a win-win.
Recently Kat hosted her own Collaboration Kitchen, and Janice and I got the last pair of tickets. Yes, it was that close. And boy, was it worth it. You can't just get food that tastes like this anywhere...
There is just something magical that happens when you pair freshly caught seafood and a truly talented chef. Throw in a room full of food enthusiasts, and it's the perfect recipe.