Cooking with Hands on Gourmet

While my husband spent the morning through afternoon in meetings I was able to take advantage of free activities. I signed up to participate in the culinary challenge. A San Francisco based team building company, Hands on Gourmet sends local Chefs to set up a culinary experience. It was beyond fun and amazing. We were broken up into three groups and were given the challenge of making are assigned portion of the lunch meal. Each group was paired with a Chef to lead us in preparation. The chefs provided us with the recipe (not written out only by instruction) and any methods required to complete our preparation.

My partner and I made the appetizers. Summer inspired spring rolls. We made tofu and shrimp spring rolls using rice noodles, carrots, pea sprouts, asparagus, cucumber, mint, cilantro, Thai basil, and Nappa cabbage. We served this with two dipping sauces. One was a sweet chili sauce and the other a hoisin peanut blend. Luckily my partner was a skilled home cook who loved to make food. She and I charge right through our assignment and we finished first. We were congratulated on our skills at rolling the rice paper. If you haven't used rice paper then I'll tell you that is a tricky medium to work with successfully.

The entries ready for judging. We were required to plate our entries to look their very best. Taste and appearance were the two main factors of judging.

Here is group 3's entry in the culinary challenge. They make the main course which was the hardest to make and they were the last group to finish. Shaking Beef and watercress salad with garlic noodles. This tasted amazing. The noodles were so easy to make and such a great side dish.

Group 2 made the side salads and dessert. The wilted herb salad was amazing. The recipe for this was not available online which makes me think was something that the chef in charge created herself. It consists of cilantro, Thai basil, mint, blanched asparagus, scallion, celery, pea sprouts, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, all mixed in a soy, lime juice, chili, miso vinaigrette. A perfect summer salad.

Dessert was a lemon chiffon cake topped with toasted coconut. It was served with vanilla bean whipped cream and chocolate covered strawberries. I wasn't able to get a picture of that since the desserts needed to be kept cold while we ate. Then I just forgot to take a picture before digging in. Trust me. It was delicious.

When we were finished making the food we ate family style. Lunch was tremendous. While my group did not win the challenge it was such a great time. There was plenty of great food to go around which was far better than the hotel could prepare. I was sad to leave this activity. Cooking is such fun I enjoyed every minute of this experience. I'd love to try something like this again.


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