Volume 20, Number 48 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 13 - 19, 2011
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Peter Ilch, a chef at the Andaz Wall Street hotel’s Wall & Water restaurant, shows Marisa Kahle, Michelle Kob and Val Perfanov how to prepare the ingredients for mussel chowder.
At Wall & Water students taste fruits of their labor
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Mussel chowder was on the menu, followed by roasted pumpkin stuffed with sheep ricotta on a bed of black radish salad and pheasant cooked in milk. The dessert was flourless chocolate cake topped with vanilla sauce.
“The idea is to have fun and learn how to cook a few simple dishes,” said Maximo Lopez May, executive chef at the Andaz Wall Street hotel’s Wall & Water restaurant.
“Simple?” one woman questioned, glancing at the recipe for the chocolate cake. “That looks like a lot of steps!”
She was one of eight people who had signed up for Chef May’s cooking class, held every other month at Wall & Water. Over the next two hours, the class would prepare the meal and sit down to eat it at a table next to the restaurant’s open kitchen.
Chef May divided his students into two groups of four, with one person in each group assigned to prepare one of the four items on the menu. Members of Wall & Water’s culinary staff assisted the students.
With the ingredients pre-measured and Wall & Water’s kitchen and professional batterie de cuisine, plus many hands at work, the recipes really were simple. Along the way, Chef May demonstrated how to cut up a fowl, how to measure dry ingredients for baking, how to tell if a heated dessert sauce made of egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream and vanilla is done, what kind of heavy cream to use, and a few other tips.
Chef May, who was born and brought up in Argentina, hosted cooking TV shows there and was awarded several prestigious prizes. In the Wall & Water cooking classes as in the restaurant, he uses regionally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Conveniently, on May 7, the Andaz Wall Street’s farmers’ market will reopen for the season on the plaza next to the hotel and one upcoming cooking class will entail going to the market to shop for ingredients and then going upstairs to cook them.
The members of the class varied widely in their culinary experience and in their day jobs. The group included two journalists, a fashion editor, an investment banker, a graphic designer, a public relations executive, a data base manager and an advertising account manager. Only one member of the group had taken a cooking class before. This class was more intimate, said Charles Thorp, who formerly worked on Rachael Ray’s TV show and had previously attended cooking classes with 25 people.
Chef May can accommodate up to 12 people in the Wall & Water cooking classes. “If we let people come into our kitchen and cook, we build a relationship,” May commented. “We’re trying to create ambassadors for our approach and to create a bond with people that will last.”
Wall & Water restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Easter Sunday, April 24 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., May is planning a special brunch. It will consist of Fishers Island oysters, shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, radicchio and endive salad, Hudson Valley cheese and charcuterie, glazed ham, grilled swordfish, roasted baby chicken, spring vegetables, Parmesan grits and roasted mushrooms. There will be a “chocolate extravaganza” for dessert with fresh fruit and homemade marshmallows.
“We’ll invite people to come into the kitchen and help themselves,” said May. “They can eat as much as they want.”
No cooking required.
The Easter brunch is $55 a person plus tax and gratuity, half price for children 6 to 12, and free for ages 5 and under. There will be a room set aside in the restaurant with coloring, egg painting and children’s television.
The cooking classes are $120. They take place every other month on the last Saturday of the month and last approximately two hours. Topics include “Smoke” (in May), “Flowers” (in July), Thanksgiving prep (in September) and “Mommy and Me” (in November).
For reservations, call (212) 699-1700. Wall & Water is at 75 Wall St.