Chef’s Tip: Michalakis Sarris of Elia Taverna in Bronxville-Avgolemono Soup-Yolks Only so as not to Separate When Reheating


Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, co-coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College. All classes are held within Westchester restaurants, where local chefs share their talents and recipes with us in their own dining rooms. Over the years, I have attended hundreds of classes, and I always learn a new trick and definitely a few treats, and I am here to share with you from a recent class.

Chef/Owner:  Michalis Sarris

Restaurant:  Elia Taverna in Bronxville

Tip:  When incorporating egg into hot soup “temper” it by adding hot broth a little at a time to the yolks to even the temperature.  Only use the yellow, as using whites will cause the egg in the soup to separate or curdle when reheating the soup. This soup is able to be frozen if you only use yolks and leave out the whites.

Chef Michalis Sarris  taught us recipes he learned at his grandmother’s knee while growing up in Greece.

Using the tip above we were instructed on the makings of Avgolemono-a chicken broth based soup made with rice that is velvety on the tongue due to the incorporation of eggs. A cornstarch and lemon juice “slurry” is blended in for mouth feel with a delicious lemon flavor.

He showed us the art of making stuffed cabbage by cutting out the rib of the cabbage leaf and saving it to line the bottom of the pan. This will keep the “cabbage bundles” filled with meat and rice from scorching.


A demonstration on Loukamades, delicate fried dough balls topped with cinnamon and honey and a cool Greek coffee -frappe concluded our lesson.




The 411 on Elia Taverna.


Care to get tips first hand? Check out the current offerings at WCC Continuing Ed, Taste of Westchester Classes are only $15+ a sampling fee.  Sign up with a friend for one demonstration or a few by contacting WCC via online or by phone 606-6830×1. I look forward to meeting you there! The new Spring semester has just begun!

If you are a chef or proprietor of a restaurant, and are interested in participating in this program please contact the college and leave your contact information.

After the jump, a  few of the classes being offered this spring. Check out the website for a complete listing.

There is still time to sign up for some great classes:

The Cupcake Kitchen and Luncheonette
Hands-on: Let them eat cupcakes! This adorable breakfast and lunch spot is also known for the prettiest and most delicious cupcakes in town along with custom fondant cakes for every occasion. Owner Jennifer O’Connell will give a hands-on instructional demonstration on decorating cupcakes in a St. Valentine’s Day theme, embellished with hearts and cupids. You will use pastry bags outfitted with all the tools needed to create six fabulously decorated cupcakes to bring home. The luncheonette only uses fresh ingredients and will show you how to make their fabulous butter cream icing. You will get to sample a cupcake along with coffee or tea. Come out and play with us!
Thurs., Feb. 7, 4:30-6:30 pm, $15 (+ $21 sampling fee). #13182

The Horse & Hound Inn
Weekend Lunch: Just as it must have been for stagecoaches long ago, the Inn is a beacon amid the dark and wooded roads of South Salem. Charming décor includes wide-planked floors, low ceilings, and original beams; the building dates back to 1749. During the almost twenty years the Vales have owned the Inn, there have been several sightings of spirits. The husband and wife team, Silvano and Sue Vales, have created good food and fun and will be our hosts (possibly along with some ghosts). Our appetizer lesson will be baked brie with pistachios, honey, and pears. We will have an education in composing an entrée of roasted salmon with shaved fennel and red onion in a citrus buerre blanc. To end on a sweet note, our lesson will be to create a strawberry panna cotta.
Sat., Feb. 23, 12:00-2:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee). #13183

NEW! The Cookery Restaurant,
: Truly a neighborhood restaurant dedicated to capturing the warmth of Italian comfort food, Chef David DiBari has received many accolades during his young career. His new venture is Dough Nation: a traveling wood burning oven, making pizza at local farmer’s markets and events. Each delicious and crisp pie he creates gives back to the community with a donation to a local charity. The neo-nostalgic Italian menu proves evidence of Chef DiBari’s style of cooking, which is to progressively approach simplicity. He will give an interactive demonstration of how to make Cookery mozzarella using fresh curd. We will dine on this seasoned with fett’ unta, fresh thyme and olio novella. Learn the secrets to rigatoni with burst tomatoes and toasted garlic, along with our freshly made mozzarella and basil. We finish our demonstration with a delicious chocolate semi-freddo served with toasted pignoli nuts and fresh berries. If you have not tried this most creative chef’s kitchen, schedule a visit soon!
Mon., Feb. 25, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13184

La Catena Italian Restaurant,
With its warm Tuscan décor and welcoming chef you’ll feel as if you’re embarking on a trip to Italy. Northern and Southern Italian cuisines collide as Chef Emilio shows us how to create some of his special dishes. The chef will feed us generously while we learn his cooking techniques beginning with two of his favored appetizers, a salad of baby mixed greens with walnuts and dried cranberries, with a reduced balsamic, and his delicious mussels ala romano. Learn the skills necessary to make two special entrees: linguine brodetto (seafood in a light broth), and the house specialty: chicken rolled up with mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and roasted peppers in a mushroom sauce. Dark chocolate raspberry cake will be the sweet ending to a beautiful meal!
Mon., Mar. 4, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13186

Tarry Tavern
Owner Henry Cabral, who cooked alongside his dad in the family restaurant Caravela, has come up with a unique formula in a restaurant-rich town like Tarrytown. His casual American gastro-pub offers creative, locally sourced dishes, and seasonal menus inspired by what farmers and fishermen are growing, raising, and catching. Many patrons come before or after a show at the Hudson Valley’s Tarrytown Music Hall. The chef will show us how to make hand-made pasta with spring ingredients like peas, asparagus, or fava beans, along with a special entrée created with seasonal fare. All of our menu will be flourishes of spring market inspired ingredients. For dessert, creamy cheesecake baked in a jar. Join us for a peek into this inviting restaurant.
Mon., Apr. 8, 5:00-7:00 pm, $15 (+ $22 sampling fee). #13192

Division Street Grill,
Located in the heart of the downtown artist district, this restaurant is known for its great food with an eclectic feel. Listen to live jazz each weekend while enjoying nutritionally-healthy, robust flavors from Chef Pasquale Sarwar. Our lesson on surf and turf will begin with pan-seared beef tenderloin tips in a brandy stilton sauce, followed by sautéed diver scallops in a tomato concassé, and lemon butter sauce. Finish off the class with a dessert lesson on poached pears in wine served with vanilla ice cream.
Thurs., Apr. 11, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee). #13194


Memphis Mae’s BBQ,
Peek in the Kitchen: Now that your taxes are done, join us for some down-home comfort food, Southern style. Chef Andreas Norwara, a CIA graduate, grew up in BBQ country in the Midwest, and has been cooking “low and slow” for a very long time. Take a tour of the kitchen and see the smokers used to make magic! Watch this chef create his inviting Virginia peanut soup. Next we will try smoked chicken wings and their famous hog wings: house smoked pork shanks, bone in, tender on the inside, crispy on the outside goodness. A tutorial on some traditional sides and a new favorite, smoked corn salad, will fill our lesson. Fried peach pie for dessert will round out this Southern meal.
Mon., Apr. 15, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13195

Via Vanti!,
Take the Train
: Proprietor Carla Gambescia, a passionate Italiophile, will take us on a journey of the Fantastico Fig! Learn about this biblical fruit while enjoying a three course Italian festa. Learn from Carla’s top 10 fig facts. Begin this unique experience with a “figgy piggy” salad served with a Beatrice pizzette of wine-poached figs, gorgonzola, toasted walnuts, and Sicilian honey, followed by chicken rolled with figs, feta, and pistachios served with creamy polenta and a red grape sauce. Join in a perfect ending by indulging in a wine-poached fig with a shortbread cookie and a delicioso scoop of “New York’s best gelato” along with the history of gelato and unlimited tastes of all their eighteen daily flavors to end our lesson! As a bonus, a how-to on Bellini’s, a mixture of sparkling wine, traditionally Prosecco, and peach purée.
Tues., Apr. 16, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13196

Roasted Peppers,
This American bistro with strong Latin influences is the collaboration of Mexican born brothers Juan and Roberto Lepe, chefs in Westchester for over twenty years. The culinary experiences from their past have combined with their expertise and creativity to flourish into Roasted Peppers, their first restaurant venture. Chef Juan along with Chef Darrell Belcher, a 1987 CIA graduate, will show us the techniques used to create a few of their signature dishes. We will start with their stuffed roasted picadillo pepper two ways: ground beef, diced zucchini, carrots, onions, and green olives, versus a romesco and goat cheese stuffing. This will be followed by chipotle corn crusted salmon-roasted fish, cilantro mashed potatoes, and sautéed Swiss chard, with a chimichurri sauce. We will end with a jalapeño brownie served with coconut ice cream for a very different dessert.
Mon., Apr. 22, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13198


Caffé Azzurri,
Set in a lovely casual atmosphere, we will discover the authentic culinary flavors chef Jerry Colella has to offer. He has grown up in the restaurant business and uses his culinary skills to create a sumptuous dining experience. He will teach us to make a simple but delicious appetizer of ricotta crostini with fig balsamic glaze, followed by a spring vegetable risotto with asparagus and chorizo. For a sweet treat, a beautiful home-style Italian cheesecake from a family recipe. Join us for a delicious lesson with a fun and informative instructor!
Tues., Apr. 23, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13277


Albano Appliance, 
Born and raised in France, Chef Jehan S. deNoüe has over 35 years of experience in the area. He is now Albano Appliance’s own resident chef, managing the company’s continuing education program, including cooking classes, manufacturer demonstrations, and personal and in-home instruction. He is a most approachable and informed instructor and will give out tips on a variety of methodologies for preparing a fabulous meal, all the while toasting us with wine. Surrounded by high tech, and modern appliances, we will discover the flavors of his pepper salad, baby romaine with edamame drizzled with jalapeno dressing and bell pepper piperade. We will learn to make a mussels mariniere with chorizo sausage. For dessert, Chef Jehan will show us how to make a fresh berry fool. Do not miss this class as it is always a favorite!
Thurs., Apr. 25, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #13200

Come join in the fun and learn a thing or two!


About Author

As a contributing blogger and the author of "Chef’s Tip", Donna Monaco Olsen recaps great cooking demonstrations from local restaurants. As the the coordinator for Westchester Community College’s Continuing Education program, named “A Taste of Westchester,” she writes the program, which offers more than 35 cooking classes each semester, and recruits chefs to do cooking demonstrations in their restaurants. She holds a full time position in the education field, and in her off time develops and contributes recipes for cookbooks. She is an avid baker and a former cake decorator who created many custom designed specialty cakes. Along with her husband, she reviews restaurants on Small Bites during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

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