It was class 2, week 2, and we were diving right in! On the menu were 3 dishes to prepare: a composed salad, beer mac and cheese, and because apparently old is new again, salmon rillettes.

Focusing on what Chef Tony calls “building blocks” the first thing we did was go through the different elements of a composed salad: greens, the vinaigrette, vegetables, fruit, and protein. Our salad would feature beets, apples, radishes, wheat berries and pecans. When it came to the dressing we mixed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of toasted fennel seeds. It was a delicious example of how flexible and creative you can get with a composed salad: “that’s what cooks do… we compose!” proclaimed Chef Tony.

Next up, was our Beer Mac and Cheese – a great opportunity to learn how to make a roux as well as a béchamel. We started by rendering bacon in a pan with butter, sweating our mirepoix and adding seasoning. Flour was added next, then beer, milk, and grated cheese. Eventually we combined our sauce with a high quality pasta, cooked a little beyond al dente, and this became a very special take on the mac and cheese that we all are used to.

The last dish we put together were the salmon rillettes, giving us a chance to learn about and practice poaching. Chef Tony considers this an important and gentle technique – a way to cook your protein from the outside in. We watched for the salmon to turn a lovely colour of rose and then removed it from the pot. Once it cooled it was tremendously easy to break apart into flakes. The poaching liquid which was flavored with white wine, butter, shallots and garlic was then reduced to a syrup and incorporated with the flaked salmon. Adding some avocado, sour cream, and a quick Plating 101 tutorial, this dish was taken to the next level.

I certainly learned a lot during this class; lots of tips and tricks to take-away. So just like the last post, I’d like to share some of Chef Tony’s DOs and DON’Ts with you. Here we go:


  • keep the skin on your apple when adding it to a salad
  • add flavor by toasting your walnuts or pecans
  • use old aged cheddar for your mac and cheese – or create a mix with Gruyère and/or Fontina
  • temper your beer, milk and cheese
  • add some pasta water if your sauce is too think
  • flavor your poaching water
  • buy/use unsalted butter – more fresh/better quality cream


  • buy dressings at the store – make your own vinaigrette at home
  • over dress your salad; you only need a light coating
  • use tongs to toss and plate your salad – use your hands
  • use elbow pasta - the sauce can’t get inside
  • let your pasta clump together in boiling water – keep stirring
  • rinse your pasta once it has finished cooking



mac prep

final mac


Leave a Reply