The Chef’s Kitchen
Chef Chris Hall has a recipe for mother-daughter culinary fun.
(page 1 of 3)
In one corner is a bubbling risotto; in another, lime zest and egg yolks are whisked into a fluffy meringue. No, you aren’t tuned into the latest hot cooking show. You’re in the kitchen with Morgantown’s Chef Chris Hall in a culinary celebration of Mother’s Day. Featuring mother-daughter duos engaged in enthusiastic chat and culinary teamwork, the chef’s cooking classes are open to anyone and take place in his well-stocked, commercial kitchen near Paradise Lake. What better way to celebrate family bonds than to slice, dice, sauté, and bake with Mom?
A top-of-the-class Stratford University Culinary Arts graduate, Chris brings years of experience to the table, gathered while manning the kitchens of some of the Washington, D.C., area’s finest dining establishments. For now, though, his executive chef and catering talents are on the back burner. His present teaching set-up keeps his culinary passion boiling. “There’s a personal satisfaction,” he says, proving his point as he guides students Diana and Sarah Claydon through the process of making chicken cordon bleu. It’s the ladies’ first recipe of the evening, but it’s certainly not their first trip around the chef’s kitchen. In the course of more than a dozen classes, they’ve learned to make soups and sauces, breads and desserts, fish, Asian, Tex-Mex, and Italian cuisine.
Initially drawn to the cooking classes to master some basic meals, the Claydons wound up delving into dishes they never dreamed of making, Diana says. “We did one special dish that was so much fun—a flambé—and we didn’t even catch the kitchen on fire,” she laughs. “I never had the confidence before to do something like that.”
But it’s not just the finished product that keeps the mother-daughter team coming back; it’s also the array of tips they get. Who knew microwaving a clove of garlic for 10 seconds made for easier skinning and mincing, or that adding a little white vinegar to a poached egg made it slip onto the plate lickety-split? Throughout his classes, Chris interjects pointers—timely, random, and to the point. He instructs the Claydons on how to properly flatten, stuff, bread, and brown chicken breasts. “It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the inside. No one is going to unroll it,” he says. “And don’t overcook. No one likes burnt stuff.”