Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lobster Life Cooking Class at Ella's Fine Food in Westerly RI

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Chef Jeanie Roland's Lobster Cooking Class   

A few weeks back we received an invite to travel up to scenic Westerly, Rhode Island to participate in the first of Chef Jeanie Roland, Owner, Operator, and Executive Chef of Ella's Fine Food and Drinks' summer/fall 2016 cooking classes,  this one titled ... 

Lobster Life!!!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes

Ah, such is MY life! A weekend trip to coastal Rhode Island - and the chance to eat some lobster! Ummm, okay!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Lobster Life Cooking Class at Ella's Fine Food & Drink
 in Westerly Rhode Island.

But this was more than just eating lobster, this was the ability to learn some fabulous tips and tricks about lobster preparation, and some great general insight on food preparation from Culinary Institute of America (CIA) alum, Chef Jeanie Roland.

Chef Jeanie is a seven-time James Beard nominee, and one of the few contestants to “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network.  Chef Jeanie and her husband James also own and operate The Perfect Caper restaurant in Punta Gorda, Florida. 

Chef Jeanie began the cooking demonstration by welcoming us into the restaurant's kitchen

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Jeanie Roland in the Ella's Kitchen

She's an absolute whirling dervish and impossible to photograph - her hands are always moving - pots are always rotating - and spoons are always stirring.

Chef Jeanie is one bad-ass female chef and a warrior in the kitchen! I could certainly see how she beat Bobby Flay!

In the kitchen she taught us about the proper way to prep our lobster for its culinary demise - and how to make a heck of a lobster stock. And, if that's not enough - she even gave us a few trade secrets on what can be substituted for lobster stock if you're in a pinch.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Make sure you grab that crispy sediment in the pan
That's where all the flavor is!

After our kitchen lesson we moved back to the dining room where Chef Jeanie began class. We learned so many neat tips with every step of the process. Best ways to open a lobster, best ways to remove meat from a lobster and more!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Roland demonstrates how to break apart a lobster

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Roland demonstrates the best way to
remove lobster meat from the claw and tail

And all that work resulted in this delicious Lobster Bisque. Rich, creamy and delicious, and in the center was a beautiful surprise, a delicate dollop of lobster chive custard.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes Lobster Bisque

I mean really. There are just so many ways you can say yum before you sip this up and lick your bowl clean.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Lobster Bisque at Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Next we moved on to Lobster Pot Pie. Now, I have to admit, I am a die-hard crust on the bottom - crust on the top - 'pot pie' maker. But Chef Jeanie convinced us all to have a bit of fun with this dish, especially in the summer months when you want everything a bit lighter.

And she taught us the fine art of pie dough making. What kind of flour to use,  the proper way to knead, how to roll in only an outward direction (less gluten!), and the importance of resting your dough.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes

Throughout the entire class she would stop and take questions, or take the time to show you just how things should look. In the photo below she shows how the dough should be just this side of crumbly with bits of butter visible.

And, here's where she really got me!  Instead of crust on the top and bottom, why not just place a nice flaky lobster shaped pie pastry smack dab in the middle of  your pot pie!

I have to admit - I'm a convert! This was a beautiful light dish - perfect for summer - and the lobster cut-out made for a nice presentation that would be impressive when entertaining. A great alternative to crust on the top and the bottom.  And I didn't even miss it! In fact, I thought it was so much better to go a bit lighter when the weather is so warm!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes Lobster Pot Pie
Lobster Pot Pie
Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Next we moved on to Stuffed Lobster and a beautiful Lobster Cream Sauce. Chef shared with us some of her favorite kitchen gadgets, her favorite size knife to use, and how to properly cut vegetables.

Here's my dish of Lobster Cream Sauce over pasta with a roasted cherry tomato garnish.

And a delicious forkful of stuffed lobster.

Chef Jeanie closed with her recipe for a wonderful Grapefruit Vinaigrette Dressing, perfect for all those fresh summer salads from local produce!

Chef gave great direction on alternatives and substitutes but also told us to stick with our favorites as staples. Why? Because a change in brand can completely change the flavor of the dish.

Love Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce? Don't sub it out for a generic brand!

The result -  an aromatic, tangy, with just a hint of sweetness creamy dressing. I can't wait to make this for my next summer salad!

Speaking of which, Chef Roland sent us home with full recipes for everything she demonstrated - and kept us busy taking notes on all her hints and tips. In addition to just plain delicious, this was truly an informative and fun class!

We strayed away from lobster for dessert when Chef Roland treated us to this Honey and Fig covered creamy dessert.

Because, really, every good dinner should end on a sweet note.

And you can experience this same sweet hospitality at one of Chef Jeanie's upcoming cooking classes!

Chef Jeanie Roland's Upcoming Classes:

  • August 20th: END OF SUMMER PARTY,- Tomato & corn buffet theme
  • September 17th: ALL ABOUT APPLES - Soup, salad, and more
  • October 22nd: DUCK, DUCK & DUCK- Discussion on types and the different usage
  • November 12th: ELLA'S THANKSGIVING - Classic Thanksgiving Preparation of Turkey with Jeanie's own twists and some hor d'oeuvres
  • December 10th: CHRISTMAS DAY - Holiday Specialties

Cooking classes are $100 per person and start at 12 noon on all dates listed. Classes last 2-1/2 to 3 hours and include: instruction, recipes, adult beverages, featured food and Q & A with Chef Jeanie. Demonstration includes cooking in both the kitchen and their studio kitchen in the dining room.

Visit them soon for a great class or a delicious meal (or both!)

Ella's Fine Food and Drink

2 Tower Street
Westerly, RI  02891

About Ella’s Fine Food & Drink

Ella’s Fine Food & Drink, located at 2 Tower Street in Westerly, RI, opened in 2011 by Chef Jeanie Roland, a seven-time James Beard nominated Chef, and her husband and business manager, James Roland.  A premier dining destination for coastal, southern New England, Ella’s features French-Asian inspired fare imbued with Chef Roland’s passion for cooking with the freshest seasonal ingredients. In her pursuit of perfection, everything is made from scratch, from breads to desserts and everything in between, and menus change frequently in an effort to highlight the best available ingredients and to challenge Chef Roland and her culinary team. She has been quoted as saying that perhaps, "she has yet to create her best dish!"

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by members of Ella's management and marketing team, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. You captured a wonderful, informative, and delicious afternoon perfectly/

    1. Thank you so much! I think Chef Jeanie gave us such great tips with every move she made!


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