Chef’s Tip: Chef Armando Elisea of Don Coqui, New Rochelle ~ Cut Lobsters Prior to Cooking-Still Alive


Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here to share with you from a recent cooking demonstration.200517393-001 (Please scroll down for the selection of demonstrations currently being offered.)

Being the coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College, I have attended hundreds of classes but still continue to learn something new from our great chefs! Current class schedule.

This class was hands-on in a state of the art kitchen, where we actually, as a group of 12 “foodies”, got to prepare the entire meal from start to finish.

Join us at several of Westchester’s most exciting restaurants for a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds. Each chef will offer a private cooking demonstration, followed by a tasting of the prepared items. All classes are held within Westchester restaurants, where local chefs share their talents and recipes with us in their own dining rooms.

Chef:  Armando Elisea

Restaurant:  Don Coqui, New Rochelle

Tip:  When cooking lobster such as in a paella, cut the lobster in half while still alive, starting with the tail and continuing through the head. This will cause the crustacean to stay tender and the meat not “seize up”. Here is a quick video showing this easy (as long as you do not think about the lobster!) technique.

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One of the beautiful bartenders from upstairs joined us with a mini lesson on Sangria. We watched her describe the fruit and flavors that go into Don Coqui’s Sangria. Some of the house specialty appetizers staved off the hunger while we began to prepare each component of our meal.

Don Coqui Summer 2013 001Friend’s enjoying a glass of Sangria!Don Coqui Summer 2013 006Queso Blanco made in-house.Don Coqui Summer 2013 004Many hands helped to make Avocado “fans”.

We started out with a lesson on a mixed green salad served with sofrito vinaigrette (see recipe below). A house made queso blanco (white cheese) much like mozzarella but not as soft, was cubed and placed on top along with an avocado fan which we discovered to be not as difficult to master as we had initially thought.

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The chef recommend not letting the vinaigrette get heated when mixing or the dressing will “break” (separate and not stay emulsified).  Keep the ingredients cool and pulse instead of running the blender.
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Brandy is used to deglaze the pan and scrape up the fond (from the French word for “bottom”) it is the word for those brown roasted bits created at the bottom of the pan, and is a concentrated flavor. The technique for dislodging the fond from the bottom of the pan and incorporating into a sauce, is called deglazing.
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Uncle and nephew cook side-by-side.

Chef Armando partially precooks his rice for the restaurant preparation and encouraged us to do so for a dinner party so it would be halfway done when guests arrive. He told us about the saffron used in the rice to give it a specific flavor and its famous yellow color. It is a spice derived from the flower commonly known as the Saffron Crocus.  The Saffron crocus bears flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, when dried they are used mainly in various cuisines as a seasoning and coloring agent, thus making them the world’s most costly spice by weight. Iran now accounts for approximately 90% of the world production of saffron. Saffron’s taste and “hay-like” fragrance along with its color make for the familiar look and taste of paella.

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Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Lobster, Chicken, Chorizo and Calamari

Although we were stirring the pot in the beginning of our preparation, we were later instructed to leave the rice undisturbed to create the sought after crunchy, crispy rice on the bottom of the pan. It is called “pegado” and the direct translation being “stuck or fixed”. Our chef shared that we should put the shrimp in last, when the rice was almost cooked, so as not to get rubbery or dried out.

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Mother and daughter share their handy work with a dish of  Paella!

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Chocolate lava cakes going into the oven.

We ended with a lesson on melting chocolate to make chocolate lava cakes. They must come out of the oven cooked on the outside and creamy on the inside for the “ooze” factor. Do not over bake and serve warm for the tastiest product.


Chef Armando-thank you for the food education! Don Coqui will be teaching another class during WCC’s Fall Semester.

Join us at several of Westchester’s most exciting restaurants for a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds. Care to get tips first hand? Check out the current offerings at WCC Continuing Ed, Fall 2013 Taste of Westchester. Classes are only $15+ a CASH sampling fee.  Sign up with a friend for one demonstration or a few by contacting WCC by phone at 606-6830×1. Come spend time with fellow “foodies” and learn a thing or two!

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

La Catena Italian Restaurant, Ardsley,
With its warm Tuscan décor and welcoming chef it’s as if we’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, portobello mushroom with a reduced balsamic, and his delicious mussels marinara. Get ready for their now famous tableside show of pappardelle alla Emilio, made with three types of mushrooms and cognac, set on fire in a giant hollowed wheel of imported Parmigiano-Reggiano for a scrumptious sauce. Learn the skills necessary to make chicken al pagliro: chicken breast rolled with a center of shitake mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and roasted peppers in a shallot cognac tomato sauce. Strawberry shortcake will be the sweet ending to a beautiful meal!
Mon., Sept. 30, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83045

The Chophouse Grille, Mahopac,
New to the scene, opening in 2012, TCHG hand picks aged steaks to create a most memorable meal. Offering superior service at a fair price in a relaxing atmosphere makes it sometimes difficult to get a reservation. Proprietors Matt Camerino and Toni Vulaj have over 25 years in the food service industry. The chef will teach us the secrets to spaghettini carbonara: procuitto di Parma and sweet vidalia onions, finished with parmesan cheese and a raw egg yolk to help bind the sauce. We’ll watch how they prepare a Pittsburgh rib-eye grilled to perfection, as they quickly sear it on high heat to char the outside and seal in the flavors. A demonstration of bananas Fontaine (banana bread topped with caramelized bananas and chocolate morsels, wrapped in phyllo dough and baked) with the ingredients melded to create an original and wonderful dessert. Come out to see what everyone is talking about!
Mon., Oct. 7, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83046

  As seen on SmallBites.  Port Chester,
Signed Cookbook Offer: Chef Rafael Palomino is always in the midst of expanding his restaurant empire, of which Palomino’s in Larchmont is his latest sensation! Chef Rafael has also been quite active at the keyboard and will have signed copies of his fifth cookbook, Latin Grill, co-authored by Arlen Gargagliano. It will be available during the demonstration for an additional $20. Though he travels incessantly between his restaurants, he still finds time to teach, as well as working to spread the word of healthy Latin-style cooking and eating. Along with our demonstration, we will have a sample taste of Chef Rafael’s creations in a Latin setting. We begin with an appetizer of sirloin steak empanadas with guajillo pepper aji, followed by a lesson on how to properly grill salmon. This is served with quinoa tabbouleh and saffron mojito sauce. Our lesson will conclude with an authentic dessert of cinnamon churros.
Tues., Oct. 8, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH + optional $20 cookbook, payable to instructor). #83047

Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn
As seen on SmallBites. Chappaqua,

Returning Chef: The Kittle House began humbly in 1790 as a barn before the future restaurant and inn were built. Since 1981 it has been owned by the Crabtree family, who have returned it to its former glory, including transforming the former stables into an award-winning wine cellar of over 65,000 bottles. We are happy to welcome back to the CKH kitchen Chef Jay Lippin. His expertise and unique style of cooking will lend for a very special learning experience, starting with roasted autumn vegetables with coach farms goat cheese, hazelnuts, and amba farms herbs (all ingredients are from local sources). Then we will learn the techniques used to make a beef duo of tender braised short ribs, and a waygu strip steak, served with kale sprouts and a red wine jus on top of wheat berries. Our sweet treat will be the chef’s promise of the secrets to their most sought after chocolate dessert, The Gift. Join us for a special evening!
Wed., Oct. 9, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83048

Don Coqui 
As seen on SmallBites. New Rochelle,
Hands-On: Don Coqui is an authentic Puerto Rican dining experience including live entertainment many nights of the week. The first floor features an interactive professional demonstration kitchen which provides the perfect venue for us to help Chef Armando prepare our meal for the evening. We will start with a mesclun salad consisting of goat cheese, caramelized onions, and the house vinaigrette. Next a Puerto Rican treat, a lesson on montaditos tostones (crispy plantains with a delicious roasted pork topping). Hands-on instruction will help us to create butternut squash ravioli adorned with a butter and crispy sage topping. To end on a sweet note, we will make zeppolis for dessert. The bartender’s beverage instruction will be a classic Bellini. Salud! White Plains is now also home to Don Coqui’s newest location.
Wed., Oct. 16, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83049

Elia Taverna
As seen on SmallBites.  Bronxville

Weekend Lunch: Proprietors Rui Cunha and authentic Greek Chef Michalakis Sarris are passionate about good food and great service. Come sail away to the Greek Isles with us as our demonstration begins with Elia salad: arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta, and imported Greek wheat rusks. This is followed by a lesson on an exciting special not found on the regular menu, tirokafteri arni gemisto (stuffed leg of lamb with spinach and feta cheese in a hearty sauce), served with lemon potatoes. For dessert learn the art of making ekmek kataifi: custard filling inside spun shredded phyllo dough, topped with whipped cream and almonds along with a cool frappe blended to perfection. They now have an extensive catering and private party planning menu. We will all join in a resounding “OPA!” in celebration of this terrific class! Hold onto your dishes!
Sat., Oct. 19, 12:30-2:30 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83050

Café of Love, Mt. Kisco, and
Hands-On: When the ground begins to swell with autumn squash, pumpkin, and root vegetables, seasonal soups and stews appear on everyone’s minds and menus. Enjoy an evening of warmth in the beautiful dining room of Café of Love. Learn valuable tips, tricks, and trade secrets of their sister restaurant Ladle of Love (also located in Mt. Kisco) as well as the Café’s, as both kitchens are famous for taking local ingredients on a global adventure. Paired with an earthy salad and savory vinaigrette, proprietor and executive chef Leslie Lampert will lead you step-by-step through several recipes you will be proud to serve to company and family alike.
Mon., Oct. 21, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83051

nessa and Zeppoleme, Port Chester,
In the last three years, nessa has created quite a stir. Proprietor Marc Tessitore’s family has brought their tenderness, creativity, and love for food and wine to their restaurant. Chef Chris Ferris along with Marc will show us how to prepare a four course tasting menu representative of the restaurant’s strong Italian roots. We start with nessa salad with vine ripened tomatoes, sweet onion, and fennel, in a delicate lemon dressing. Then learn to make their famous Bolognese sauce consisting of hand ground beef, pork, and veal ragu and whole milk ricotta, all tossed with rigatoni. Next watch a demonstration of seared skirt steak with a cabernet reduction, mashed potatoes, and broccoli rabe. Right next door is Marc’s newest digs aptly named Zeppoleme, where he has recreated a neighborhood coffee shop. We will find out the secrets to the shop’s modern ricotta filled zeppole, made of lightly fried Italian doughnuts, ricotta, powdered sugar, and a vanilla crema.
Tues., Oct. 22, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83052

The Cupcake Kitchen
and Luncheonette  As seen on SmallBites.  Irvington,
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. Located on historic Main Street in Irvington, owner Jennifer O’Connell will give a hands-on instructional demonstration on decorating cupcakes in time for Halloween. This will be an interactive class using decorating tips from a pro and the outcome will be “spooktacular”. You will use pastry bags fitted 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. In addition, get to sample a cupcake from their daily selection along with coffee or tea. Come out and play with us!
Thur., Oct. 24, 4:30-6:30 pm, $15 (+ $22 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83053

Iron Horse Grill
As seen on SmallBites. Pleasantville,
Weekend Seminar: So you want to be a restaurant owner? The Iron Horse Grill is an intimate restaurant in the turn of the century Pleasantville train station building. It has received accolades for its contemporary and superb seasonal cuisine. Our proprietor and executive Chef Phil McGrath will have a Q&A session on food and the restaurant business. He is an adjunct professor at the college and a 39 year veteran restaurant businessman at his three Pleasantville locations: Iron Horse Grill, Pony Express, and his latest creation, Seahorse. He will teach us the pitfalls and successes associated with this livelihood. Light refreshments will be served during this interactive lecture. This speaker is an old favorite so sign up quickly to reserve your spot.
Sat., Oct. 26, 12:00-2:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83054

AJ’s Burgers
As seen on SmallBites.New Rochelle,
Hands-On: Voted 2013 Best NY Burger and seen on Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout, this local hot spot continues to serve up some super creative and delicious food. Chef AJ will have us taste a slider version of his award-winning habanero burger. Join us for a terrific interactive demonstration on butternut squash (BNS). Our “Iron” chef will teach us to create spectacular dishes all with one ingredient, just like on the TV show. Start off with an appetizer of BNS hummus, followed by a lesson on a silky BNS soup. Our main course we’ll learn the skills to make a savory BNS over linguine. The chef will help us to create a seasonal dessert of roasted BNS pudding topped with BNS whipped cream. Join us for a very different demonstration to play “Iron Chef.” Chef Alan asks that you bring a fall inspired ingredient to incorporate into the dishes on the spot!
Mon., Oct. 28, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83055

The Horse & Hound Inn
As seen on SmallBites.  South Salem,
Ghosts? Just as it must have been for stagecoaches long ago, the Inn is a beacon amid the dark and wooded roads of South Salem. The building dates back to 1749, charming with its wide-planked floors, low ceilings, and original beams. During the past sixteen years that the Vales’ have owned the Inn, there have been several sightings of spirits. Maybe one will join us for our lesson; after all it is the week of Halloween! For an amuse bouche enjoy the Inn’s famous firecracker shrimp, with cream cheese with jalapeno and a bacon wrapping. Our lesson in the dining room will be butternut squash, pumpkin, and apple soup. Filet mignon with plums in a pinot noir sauce served with sautéed kale and shallots is our entrée education for the evening. For a fall treat we will experience individual puff pastry apple pies with caramel sauce. BOO!
Tues., Oct. 29, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83056

Peter Pratt’s Inn, Yorktown Heights,
Welcome Back: This colonial homestead, built in 1780, has been a local inn dating back to 1926. Set in a residential neighborhood, the area has an historical presence, having served as General Washington’s command post. A special place to dine, it has been producing fabulous creations from master chef and owner Jonathon Pratt, who has taken over for his father, Peter, in the kitchen. We begin with an appetizer of crispy Thai crab stuffed shrimp, followed by a lesson on how to prepare a braised short rib and stilton ravioli. For the dessert tutorial, the chef will entertain us with a lesson on fried cheesecake with blueberry and chocolate sauces. This class is a favorite so sign up quickly to reserve your spot.
Wed., Oct. 30, 6:30-8:30 pm, $15 (+ $30 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83057

Tagine, Croton-on-Hudson,
Weekend Lunch: As the owners of Peter Pratt’s Inn and Umami Café, master chefs and proprietors Jonathan Pratt and Craig Purdy have taken on a new endeavor. Tagine is aptly named for the cooking vessel used in making many of the dishes found in this cozy French bistro with a Moroccan edge. This restaurant is making a name for itself with its warm atmosphere and delicious food. Our chef will teach us the makings of a classic French menu. We begin with a salad chevre chaud (broiled cheese on crisp bread), followed by a lesson on how to prepare a famous Alsace dish of choucroute garni (pork and sauerkraut). For the dessert tutorial, the chef will teach us how to make a classic French profiterole.
Sat., Nov. 2, 1:00-3:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83058

Tarry Tavern, Tarrytown,
Kitchen Visit: Owner Henry Cabral, who cooked alongside his dad in the family restaurant Caravela, has come up with a unique formula: 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 landmark theatre, the Tarrytown Music Hall. The chef will show us how to make duck confit with hand-made squash and pear ravioli along with a few other delicious tidbits incorporating seasonal fare, while demonstrating flourishes of fall market inspired ingredients. For dessert, a glass of Ronnybrook Farms milk with warm apple pie. Join us for a peek into this inviting restaurant’s kitchen!
Mon., Nov. 4, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $23 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83059

121 Restaurant  As seen on SmallBites. North Salem,
Kitchen Visit: Enjoy the lovely scenery on your drive to 121! Chef Lucas Hannaburgh grew up locally and is a graduate of Johnson and Wales. He will demonstrate several techniques with an emphasis on regional, organic, and natural products. Guests can appreciate his passion for cooking and entertaining as it transmits into the dishes he prepares. The wood burning oven serves pizza that draws on both Roman and Neapolitan styles. Sample a taste of crisp magic that happens to their crust. Learn how to make homemade ricotta cheese with herbs, followed by seared sea scallops with mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes. For a sweet treat discover the secret to their chocolate hazelnut bread pudding with nutella mousse. The class will take place in the 121 Kitchen building.
Tues., Nov. 5, 5:30-7:30 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83060

Caffé Azzurri
, Hartsdale,

Set in a lovely atmosphere, we will discover the authentic culinary flavors that Chef Alvaro Camilo and Proprietor Jerry Colella has to offer. He has grown up in the restaurant business and uses his culinary skills to create a sumptuous dining experience. His ever changing menu creates something for everyone. He will teach us to make an impressive and delicious appetizer of ricotta and quail egg ravioli with asparagus puree and a truffle tomato fondue. We will learn how to perfectly sear salmon served over a lentil and cherry tomato ragout. For a traditional treat, he shares the secrets to his luscious home-style cannoli created from his family recipe. Join us for a lesson with a fun and informative instructor!
Wed., Nov. 6, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83061

Chutney Masala Indian Bistro
, Irvington,

Lunch & Kitchen Tour: Discover our chef’s hidden secrets in a waterfront setting down on the Hudson River. Chefs Navjot and Anu, a husband and wife duo, create all the dishes at Chutney Masala. Navjot studied the fine art of Indian food at the Culinary Institute in India. Our class will teach Southern Indian cuisine. On the menu will be sprouted mung bean salad. The makings of shrimp Biryani with a cucumber raita will be taught, then a lesson on making chana masala (chickpea stew) alongside aloo gobhi (diced potatoes and cauliflower). A pounded rice pudding will be our dessert demonstration. We will also enjoy a lesson on the specialties of nan bread.
Tues., Nov. 12, 12:00 noon-2:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 in CASH sampling fee, payable to instructor). #83062

Il Sogno Ristorante, Port Chester,
A transplant from NYC, where it spent several successful years in mid-town, Il Sogno is a cozy, familiar-feeling restaurant. Owner Jimmy Resulbegu demonstrates the restaurant’s nouvelle style of Mediterranean cuisine based on the foods of Tuscany and Campagna. Our lesson will include some of the specialties of the house, starting with insalata di granchio (crabmeat and avocado over a cucumber carpaccio); our second course will teach us the makings of a simple, yet elegant sauce. Spaghetti ala Ceca combines the freshest ingredients, including tomatoes, to make a no cook sauce for an everyday “go to” quick and easy meal. The main course is a signature dish at this fabulous restaurant and will consist of a lesson on pesce al sale (whole sea bass baked under a sea salt crust). Join us at this neighborhood gem. Mangia!
Wed., Nov. 13, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83063

Division Street Grill, Peekskill
This 15 years “young” restaurant located in the heart of the downtown Artist District is known for its great food with an eclectic feel. Listen to live jazz each weekend while enjoying dishes prepared in a healthy way. Chef Pasquale Sarwar will enlighten us with his talent of preparing food with robust flavors. We will begin with a seasonal salad of oven baked beets dotted with goat cheese, walnuts, and the house made raspberry vinaigrette. Next, a lesson on roasted duck breast and leg in a tangy apricot brandy sauce. Finish off our demonstration with a pastry instruction on baked banana wrapped in phyllo dough, drizzled with crème caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Thur., Nov. 14, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83064

The Horse & Hound Inn, South Salem,
Weekend Lunch: As South Salem’s hidden gem, this innovative American fare restaurant and pub is set in a historic setting. 1749 is the earliest recorded date at Town Hall showing it as an Inn but it was a homestead long before that date. It has retained its charm with its wide-planked floors, low ceilings, original beams and “spirits” of both kinds. For the past seventeen years the husband and wife team, Silvano and Sue Vales, have created good food and fun. To start our class chef Vales will treat us to an amuse bouche of sweet potato and pulled pork. Our appetizer lesson will be seared tuna carpaccio with a chipotle aioli. He will provide a demonstration on breaking down chicken for frenching, served with herb au jus served and seasonal vegetables. Sweeten our lesson, individual apple pies with caramel sauce a la mode.
Sat., Nov. 16, 12:00 noon-2:00 pm, $15 (+ $22 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83065

Roasted Peppers
As seen on SmallBites. Mamaroneck,
This American bistro with strong Latin influences is the collaboration of Juan Lepe and CIA graduate Darrell Belcher, who have been 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, now three years young. The chef’s will show us the techniques used to create a few of their signature dishes. We will start with coconut shrimp alongside tequila pineapple salsa and an apricot dipping sauce. This will be followed by a lesson on Chef Lepe’s famous paella made with assorted seafood, chorizo, and chicken over delicious saffron infused rice. We will end our demonstration on a sweet note with raspberry brioche bread pudding.
Tues., Nov. 19, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83066

Royal Palace, White Plains (Greenburgh),
Much of the complex flavors used in this restaurant’s cuisine come from fragrant aromatic spices like cardamom, coriander, and cumin. This restaurant serves a daily buffet which includes many traditional dishes. Owner Jagdish Mitter, our host, will share a few surprise dishes as well as have his chef demonstrate how to make samosa chat (chana masala in a sweet, mint chutney with yogurt), followed by shrimp korma (ground shrimp with blended spices in a creamy sauce), lamb saliboti (dried apricots and straw potatoes), and malai kofta (cottage cheese, potato, and cashew croquette balls in a cashew cream sauce served with naan bread). Come share a taste of India!
Wed., Nov. 20, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $22 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83067

Fortina Pizza, Armonk,
Weekend Lunch/Hands-On: Chef Christian Petroni, the 2010 “Chopped” winner, along with proprietors John Nealon, and Rob Krauss, are three young men who are on the road to something great. Their combined knowledge of good food and great service make for a winning combination. Housed in a newly created grand space, situated in a courtyard setting in Armonk, these vivacious men make it happen. Chef Christian will wow you with his tasty combinations inspired by his Arthur Avenue Bronx Italian upbringing, which brings new and exciting things to the plate each and every time. Our interactive demonstration will begin with traditional fried meatballs, a specialty of the house. The polenta table will surprise you. Using a concept taken from his childhood summers spent in Italy, the family comes together to dine on what they acquire that day. The creamy polenta served family style on a marble slab, dotted with grilled meats, sauce, cheese, and fresh herbs, must be experienced to describe. The chef will perform magic on seasonal vegetables including brussel sprouts with sesame seeds. Learn the art of making sabayon with wine served alongside a steaming cappuccino.
Sat., Nov. 23, 12:00 noon-2:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83068

Ramiro’s 954, Mahopac,
Hands-On: Chef Ramiro Jimenez grew up watching his family work at his grandmother’s restaurant on the water in Acapulco, where fresh fish was served every day. He is a renowned chef specializing in taking classic Nuevo Latino cuisine and adding his own contemporary approach and creativity. The chef is a wonderful mentor and will teach us about classic ceviche preparations in his open kitchen. In this interactive class, we will help to create our dinner starting with a combination appetizer consisting of fried oysters and a seafood ceviche served with sweet plantain puree and creamed spinach. Help the chef to prepare a delicious ceviche de a tun (diced big-eyed tuna, lime juice, jalapenos, black radish, onion, and cilantro in a soy-habanero sauce) over a seaweed salad. Next, a lesson on the preparation of the restaurant’s signature dish, pernil con mojo (slow braised pork shank) served with tomatillo (avocado sauce and garlic mojo) and rice with beans. Our evening will conclude with churros con chocolate (traditional fritters dusted in cinnamon-sugar accompanied with warm chocolate sauce). Arrive hungry; Buen Provecho!
Mon., Dec. 2, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83069

Albano Appliance, Pound Ridge,
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 an approachable and informed instructor and will give tips on a variety of methodologies for preparing a fabulous meal, all the while toasting us with wine. Surrounded by the most high tech and modern appliances, we will learn how to make a creole shrimp appetizer and then learn the technique for his sweet and spicy duck empanadas. Our dessert lesson from our French chef is how to make the classic chocolate pot de crème. Do not miss this class as it is always a favorite!
Thurs., Dec. 5, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83070

Thyme Restaurant, Yorktown Heights (Cortland Manor),
Hands-On: Located on the main street this contemporary restaurant serves great American fare. This warm and inviting setting allows you to view owner and Chef Tom Costello working in this open kitchen. He will give us an interactive demonstration and we will help to create a delicious meal starting with a quail salad with roasted beets, pickled shallots, and goat cheese. We’ll enjoy light tasting skate wing beurre meunière served over a wild rice pilaf, with fall vegetables. Next help to prep a delicious dark chocolate tart and crème anglaise, served with strawberry whipped cream.
Mon., Dec. 9, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83071

The Cupcake Kitchen and Luncheonette As seen on SmallBites. Irvington,

Hands-On: Located on historic Main Street, owner Jennifer O’Connell will give a hands-on instructional demonstration on decorating cupcakes. This is an interactive class using decorating ideas to make cupcakes in winter holiday motifs. You will create six cupcakes gift packaged and suitable for giving. Learn to use pastry bags fitted with all the tools needed to create beautiful cupcakes of your own. Learn the recipe for their scrumptious butter cream icing. Recently voted as one of the best breakfast spots by Westchester Magazine, this luncheonette evokes a feeling of the 60’s and only uses fresh ingredients. Enjoy a tasty cupcake of your choice and coffee or tea before we embark on our creative journey!
Thur., Dec. 12, 4:30-6:30 pm, $15 (+ $22 sampling fee in CASH, payable to instructor). #83072

Fees include non-alcoholic beverages. New menu items are explored each semester. Menu substitutions may occur when necessary. Demonstrations will begin at the times designated. Sampling fees are payable in CASH only. Call restaurants or visit their linked websites for directions. No refunds are given for these classes. A one-time per semester registration fee of $3.25 will be added to the final tuition calculation.

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. 606-6830×1

Chef’s Tip: Chef Armando Elisea of Don Coqui, New Rochelle ~ Sofrito Vinaigrette

Use on salad or to marinate meat or fish.


  • 1 green apple peeled and cored
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Blend all in blender.


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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