Chef Emily Richards has a talent and passion for connecting with people through unique ‘pop-up’ events. We caught up with Chef Emily as she prepares for her next ‘pop-up’ event at Tawse Winery, Vineland.
“Tawse Winery has special wine club events that I have been lucky to participate in over the last few years. Each is unique and sets a table to showcase the pairing of food and wine. This upcoming wine club exclusive on August 25th is to release the upcoming September shipment of wines with some special wine club wines only available to members and I am the lucky one to showcase some food to pair with these wines.
The format of the event is for the winemaker to talk about the wines while I run through a “cooking class” format of the recipes so guests can see how the dish is made and then also go home with the recipes to recreate with their wines for family and friends. It is usually a 4 course menu for about 100 guests in 2 seatings.
“Preparing for these “pop-up” style events includes some creativity time”
Preparing for these “pop-up” style events includes some creativity time. Once I find out what the wines are and what the winemaker wants to showcase I think about some food that will pair nicely and be fitting for the season they are being presented in. In an early summer month, grilling is a perfect way to marry dishes together and going into the late summer, local seasonal ingredients and easy cooking methods will for sure be top of mind. I develop recipes based on typically showcasing 2 white wines and 2 red wines (although Tawse also has cider and spirits these are not the main focus of the cooking demo). If time allows I bring the recipes to the winery for the winemaker to taste along side the wine for pairing perfection. A great sneak peak into what we will be talking about and sharing with guests that afternoon.
Anytime we have these events outside it showcases the vineyard and also the winery itself. Whether it is on the crush pad (prior to harvest), poolside or in a barrel room the views and aromas all around enhance the experience. Also seeing the food being prepared helps guests understand the process of preparation and equally how easy it is to do at home. That is a big part of why I enjoy sharing food in a demo format. I want people to cook at home, so showing how things are prepared and what they can do at home to achieve success is important for me to share.
“Guests enjoy the restaurant flair of dishes but love to know they can replicate that in their own kitchens”
The menu for the event is taken from inspiration all around. Seasonality of products is a big part that pairs with the wine. Knowing the wine profiles helps to build the menu to enhance both. If I can use some of the wine in the cooking process as well, that makes it a secured flavour profile builder for the dish. Guests enjoy the restaurant flair of dishes but love to know they can replicate that in their own kitchens. I really strive to present those types of dishes so they can take the recipes home and enjoy them multiple times.
Some highlights of this event will be a unique pasta from Italy in a delicate sauce that includes smoked salmon that is always adds a wonderful hint of smokiness to a pasta. Something a bit heartier like a stuffed beef tenderloin that can be made ahead and I’m sure everyone will want to know what to do with their abundance of zucchini this time of year, so a flavourful vegetarian patty will make an appearance as well.
“I love reaching out to the guests prior to getting started and during the demonstration”
I love reaching out to the guests prior to getting started and during the demonstration. I encourage questions to be asked about what I am doing or if they have any other cooking questions about anything! It sparks some wonderful conversation among guests and myself. I also love offering up tips, substitutes, techniques and other cooking tidbits along the way. I find guests also suggest what they might be doing at home that works or things to try which is a wonderful community effort to share information about food and wine.
The goal in these events is to encourage guests to learn more about wine pairing but also to get them in the kitchen cooking. Although I do not have a restaurant it is an honour for me to be in someone’s home kitchen via a recipe or cookbook. It means they have taken the time to recreate one of my dishes for their family and friends. It means so much to get feedback after about what they have created at home and who they shared it with and the success they have had.
“For me it is a unique setting to do a cooking class and reach guests of all levels of cooking”
I love this inspirational type of event. For me it is a unique setting to do a cooking class and reach guests of all levels of cooking. I think it inspires me to create unique menus and then in turn helps inspire those who attend to try cooking and pairing wine in their own homes with the stories of what they experienced as well. The bonus for me is also meeting great people and enjoying delicious wine.
These events also help promote other similar collaboration events I do but also some of the other work that has been a part of my career for a long time. Writing recipes and cookbooks is the main part of my job and getting to cook these recipes for people is a big highlight for me. This fall I have a new cookbook about comfort foods. Something that I think everyone thinks about from their childhood to new favourites. The book titled Best of Bridge Comfort Foods, Recipes for Family and Friends (Robert Rose Publishing) has easy approachable recipes that will remind you of grandma and also some restaurant favourites that have become comforting to many. It is available for preorder now and in stores this fall.”
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