Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cooking with a Top Chef at Sea!!

It was now time for our Top Chef Cooking Class! This was something I was really looking forward to. And something that I really debating paying to have the kids participate in. On the one hand, the whole point of picking this cruise was for the Top Chef activities and to not sign them up seemed like they'd really miss out. But on the other hand, this was a pretty expensive event! Would they enjoy it? But really, we pay for excursions on port days, so I had to look at it as this was like an excursion. Would it be worth it? Let's see.....

I chose to do our cooking class with Hosea. I'm not really sure why, but I just had a feeling that the class with him would be most relatable for the kids. So, we were told to meet at the Murano Restaurant. When we arrived there was a group of maybe 20 there, and as I thought, my 2 kids were the only ones there, but that was fine. We had a brief introduction and were led into the kitchen.

There were stations set up with most of the food already pre-chopped and Hosea told us briefly what we'd be doing. We were going to be making his Smoky Tomato Soup. There was actually a bit of grumbling among some in the class that we'd "only" be making tomato soup...but in the end, I do believe that everyone agreed that with a group of this size, everyone had ample opportunity to participate and making one course was plenty. 

This was how our station was set up

Alex jumped right in and started helping...he really took a liking to cooking with Hosea!

A bit more of the instruction..

Keith and Alex cooling down the cilantro oil that we made

He kept it quiet, but Keith is a professional I think Hosea was glad to have someone who could just "do the next step" while Hosea moved on to teach the next step to the rest of the class.

Some more of the ingredients

Alex cooking down the tomatoes

It was about here that Alex remembered Hosea saying we'd add chicken stock, yet as of yet we hadn't added he asked him when it would be added and Hosea laughed and said, oops...forgot to add it, back to the pot, let's add it now!

Megan stirring the soup

The finished product, with the cilantro oil garnish

So, when we were done cooking we all sat down to eat. In addition to the soup we just made, this was our menu

The kitchen staff made the rest of the meal, which was delicious.

During the meal, Hosea sat at the center of the table, and we all talked and he answered everyone's questions about pretty much anything! We talked about his time on Top Chef, his new restaurant, his cooking name it! It was really a unique experience and one that I'm so glad we did!

We all got a souvenir apron which he signed if you wanted. And I loved that after the meal, Alex went up to Hosea and said "I don't really like tomatoes and I'm not a fan of soup, but that was really good! I ate the whole thing, thank you!"

All in all, the cooking class was a great experience for our family!

After our cooking class, I really couldn't tell you what we did - I'd imagine it was our usual routine...Keith and I probably grabbed chairs on deck in the sun and read. The kids went back to the cabin.

Tonight we had dinner at the Lawn Club Grill, so eventually we had to get ready for that!

Here are just a couple of pictures of the ship at night on our way to dinner.

The fountain in the Solarium area

And so we arrived at the Lawn Club! What a great concept this is! Here you can grill your own meats, and make your own pizza! Alex and Megan made their pizzas and their pizza "guide" I'll call him was really funny. Megan couldn't quite get her dough rolled out without it tearing and it was really cute how he'd help her patch it up. 

First he had them press it out into the oval

Then he showed them how to toss it from hand to hand...note how skeptical Megan looks about that step!

Next he's showing them how to hold their fingers just right for pressing it out into a bigger oval

And then, just rotate it, it will get bigger

Or maybe a hole as big as a nose?

They did toss it in the air, which I only have on video and didn't upload - but that was pretty funny! The end result was pretty good!

Then they got to put their sauce and any toppings they wanted on!

We didn't grill any of our own meats, but the pizzas turned out great! And the meats we got were really good. The atmosphere there was one of our favorites!

As the name implies, you are eating outside, up on the lawn area.

While we were eating, someone had a bit of a problem tossing their pizza...

They had to get it down with a pole! And as you can see, adults were making the pizzas, definitely not just an activity for the kids on board...which I mentioned before were few and far between!

After dinner the kids and I went to the show - tonight was the Reflection Show, the "rock" show with acrobat acts. Alex and I liked it more than Megan. Megan is a theater kid - she does all kinds of musical theater, dance and loves all things Broadway. I think by the 3rd show with the same performers, singing just different music she'd pretty much had enough. To her - this was just a repeat of the exact same show that the "pop" show and the "Broadway" show was with different music, and to be honest, she wasn't real impressed with any of them - yes, at 13 she's a bit critical! I can see her point - as compared to some of the cruises we've been on, I do feel the entertainment was lacking on this ship. But, I can be pretty easily entertained and I can't say I didn't enjoy the shows. I liked this one, the rock one best of all three of this type.

I thought the talent of the acrobatic/cirque type performers had was pretty great!

The pictures are quite lacking though!

And after the show, we were met with this guy tonight!

So that's the end of our Thursday at sea! Only one more real day of the cruise. Today was really one of the best days! While I love port days and generally cruise for the port days, today was really cool. The Top Chef cooking class was great. And I was so glad to have made the decision to not only bring the kids on the trip, but to have them do the class. To get to see them cooking, especially when their dad is a chef - well - that was really special! And not only that, but the fact that my picky kid - Alex, actually ate what he made! And dinner at the Lawn Club was probably the meal that the 4 of us had together that we liked the most. It definitely was my kids favorite meal! Both the dining experience and quality of the food. So, an excellent sea day today!

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