Aug. 8, 2011
BOSTON — It’s not often you get the chance to share the kitchen with a five-star chef, but once a month, Four Seasons Executive Chef Brooke Vosika opens his doors and recipe book to the public with a cooking class.
“Tonight we’ve got a BBQ class. It’s probably one of our most popular classes,” said Vosika. “We’re going to touch on gas barbeque verses charcoal barbeque, we’re going to touch on the different varieties of barbeque, whether it be a southern style, it can also be a Kansas City style, Texas style, North Carolina style.”
For $150, these eight students get a personal lesson on the art of barbequing. It's a lesson student Sarah Donovan said can’t come soon enough.
“I just got married and someone gave me a grill and it’s sitting on the deck. I haven’t even taken the tarp off,” Donovan said as she put on her apron. “So I’m here to learn how to grill.”
The classes are held in the middle of the Four Seasons Aujourd’hui kitchen. Everyone quickly finds their place around a square table, butcher blocks in front them and a glass of wine in hand.
First up, a lesson on Vosika’s self-described “volcano” sauce. For the past two weeks, Vosika has kept the chilies buried under mounds of salt. He says the salt draws the moisture out of the chilies while at the same time adding some saltiness to them.
“The process then is to wash off as much of the salt as possible, pick the stems off and then we’re going to blend it,” Vosika explained.
Everyone pitches in, in between sips of wine, pinching stems before the chilies are blended with vinegar and water.
Next up, the main course is the ever-daunting ribs. The first thing Vosika shows are baby-back ribs.
“The difference between the baby-back and the regular ribs is that it’s a smaller animal they come from,” he says. “And also they’ve been trimmed down so it’s the center of the rib. You’re not leaving that fat portion on the bottom.”
Vosika boils his ribs for 40 minutes before throwing them on the grill, giving him just enough time to get his Kansas-City-style barbeque sauce together. He starts by chopping some garlic.
“Ketchup is the next one and that’s our base,” he says while pouring it all into a mixing bowl. “Adding our vinegar, chili powder, paprika, olive oil which is important for coating and of course, our volcano sauce,” Voskia says, laughing.
Now it's time to hit the grill. Vosika says this is the point when people make their biggest mistake, using either too much heat or too little heat.
“There’s a fine line between burning something and char-grilling it, really making something so charred that that flavor takes over everything,” Vosika said.
Student Ernie Jones says he's definitely made that mistake. “Not paying attention to the grill when I was doing a low, slow cook and it just got way past the point of when it was done,” Johnson said.
After dousing the ribs with sauce, Vosika grabs them with tongs, demonstrating perfect technique.
“So I’m going to take this side, the side that we’ve done that has the BBQ sauce on it. We’ll lay that right on top. While that’s there, we’ll take some more barbeque sauce.”
After a few minutes sizzling on the grill, it’s time for the best part of the class. Chef stands at the table, doling out the goods: Baby back ribs-regular ribs, wings, homemade potato chips and good conversation.
At the end of the night, students say they’re taking home a lot more than just leftovers. “It was really easy to see how to make different things and with recipes I will actually be able to follow,” says Kara Silvia.
“I loved it,” adds her sister, Kristina. “It was so good, but we’re so full at this point,” she adds, laughing.
Full with a meal that’s finger lickin’ good.