Happy Monday y’all. Hope you have some family fun planned for Family Day today. Being single and without children I realized that having Valentine’s Day and Family Day on the same long weekend had potential to be a pretty big bummer of a weekend. Luckily that wasn’t the case for me :)
I had the pleasure of spending Valentine’s evening with a group of awesome people who are passionate about food, fun and looking for any excuse to consume some vino in the process. Yes, yes and yes.
A friend approached me about participating in this great idea for a supper club that had evolved recently and I was so excited to participate that I even offered to host. The idea is that a small group of people get together to learn, cook and enjoy food….and good company of course…and wine…and leftovers if they’re lucky.
The learning part is thanks to group member and chef Ryan Su. The idea is that Ryan puts together a menu with elements that he teaches to the rest of the group and then we all help to pull the meal together, picking up tips along the way. What you get out of it just depends on how serious you are to pick Ryan’s brain.
Living in Kensington Market is a big bonus as we were able to pick up all the fresh ingredients needed in the neighbourhood before getting started.
So for this special Valentine’s Day edition of super club the menu was as follows:
– braised short ribs
– sweet roasted carrots
– vegetarian lasagna
– braised fennel
– pickled fennel
– roasted eggplant quinoa salad
So Ryan showed us how to braise short ribs to give them maximum flavour and fall-off-the-bone goodness (something I’ve always to learn). He also showed us how simple it is to make your own pasta dough, even without a machine, and a to-die-for bechamel sauce for the lasagna. Some pickled fennel stems were an added delicious bonus that were unexpected and delicious. Waste not, want not.
Oh man, I wish you could’ve smelled these bubbling sauces.
It definitely was a group effort and we all worked for our meal that night.
All the hard work and wine drinking paid off because the finished product was deeeeeelicious. Here’s the mouth-watering lasagne.
Then we had roasted eggplant quinoa salad and braised fennel.
These short ribs were jam packed with flavour and fell right off the bone.
It’s just as much about a socializing as cooking and I can’t even tell you how late it was by the time we all sat down at the table but it’s all about the journey right? – in this case the journey to the dining table. Cheers to super club!
I had a chance to chat with Ryan and dig a bit deeper into his background and the idea of super club. We literally chatted for few hours over tea (ol’school, no email) and these were a few of my questions:
Did you always want to be a chef or was it something you fell into?
Ryan actually studied and worked as an engineer in B.C. for years before he gave into his passion for food. Once he was on his own in university is when he really became interested in food. He names the Food Network and Jamie Oliver and his simple and causal way of cooking as being a big influence.. A little hesitant to take one big leap he dipped his toe in by quitting his job and enrolling in a food nutrition program at Ryerson. Shortly after he realized he really wanted to be in a kitchen and have a closer and more passionate relationship with food and dropped out of that program and (like Drake) started at the bottom full-time in the kitchen of a popular Toronto restaurant. From there he went to apprentice at the acclaimed and popular Harbord Room and later to it’s sister restaurant THR & Co.
How did super club come about and how has it evolved?
The original seed of an idea for supper club was for a group of people to get together, do some batch cooking and go home with a bunch of food for the week. Ryan thought it was a great idea but wanted to bring more of an element of teaching, socializing and of course eating to the event and that’s what it became. People may get different things out of the experience but it’s a reason for a group of people who share a similar interest to get together and learn & share.
What’s the most interesting part about cooking in someone else’s kitchen?
It can be interesting and challenging to work in someone else’s kitchen says Ryan. You never really know what you’re walking into and it’s like a mystery what equipment and tools you will find. He likes being a bit nosy and digging around people’s pantry and fridge to see what kind of items they keep on hand. It’s the chef’s equivilant of going through your medicine cabinet.
What is a home cook’s must-have tools?
Ryan recently did a 5 part post on his Gastrunamy Facebook page with his 5 essential chef tools. You can check out the page for the detailed break down of why he thinks these each of these items are key but the short list is:
Heavy duty sponges
What’s your favourite guilty pleasure to cook? to order?
Ryan’s favourite guilty pleasure to cook is ketchup fried rice. Yup, it’s a real thing. Ryan says it’s an American influenced Japanese dish that basically consisted of white fried rice with ketchup topped with scrambled eggs. His favourite guilty pleasure to order is good ol’ pizza, simple with just a good sauce, cheese and fresh basil.
(**creative quality control: I always struggle with being in the moment and documenting the moment so please excuse this post full of kinda shotty iPhone photos. As you may guess, living in the moment won on this eve)