As part of my job, I often get to meet chefs, ask them questions and taste their food. (I know, I’m lucky.) But I’m glad to see that more regular people are getting the chance to meet the faces behind their meals. Whether it’s cooking classes with celebrity chefs or open-to-the-public vacations led by restaurateurs (such as Cuba Libre chef Guillermo Pernot’s upcoming tour of Cuba for 15), meaningful interactivity is becoming common.
One of the newest places to offer extra access to chefs is Alexandria’s market/restaurant Society Fair (277 S. Washington St.; 703-683-3247). Every night from Tuesday through Saturday, chef Trey Massey, above, cooks in Society Fair’s demo kitchen for 10 (reservations are required for the $45-$55 meals). When I attended, the menu included leek veloute (a creamy soup) with oyster mushrooms, Berkshire pork atop chioggia beets and fennel, and yogurt with vanilla-laced poached apricots and almonds. Massey cooked one portion of each course in front of us before our plates (prepped in the main kitchen) were served.
My night at the demo kitchen felt like watching a TV cooking show — but then getting to inhale everything at the end. The nine other diners and I asked lots of questions: about the recipes, the ingredients and even Massey’s weimaraner. I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much if I’d been sitting at a regular table, or even doing my reporter gig.