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Second Saturday cooking with Chef Adam Pechal

Last month Chef Adam Pechal and Feeding Crane Farms partnered to host the first in a series of Second Saturday classes at Lulu’s Kitchen. Pechal will be holding another class this Saturday, April 13. This week’s class features wine and cheese pairings and recipes with Sean Minor Wines.

If the March event is any guide, expect a good time and some delicious food. With Pechal’s gregarious personality and proven skills, you may even learn a little about about cooking along the way.

Here’s how things went down during the March class. The event was appropriately billed "Beer, Beer, Beer," and a variety of brews from Berryessa Brewing Company did indeed flow freely throughout the evening. 

Brewmaster Chris Miller enjoys the fruits of his labor; chef Pechal marks his territory; taking a sip; a peek at the menu.
Guests sampled five different dishes that were paired with the beers. All the food was delicious, but if you go, don’t expect a full meal. Although guests were offered seconds (and sometimes thirds) of items at the class I attended, most of the food was plated as a one- or two-bite sampling. We started things off with some crispy-salty kale chips.

Kale chips, featuring dino kale from Feeding Crane Farms: before (top) and after.
As we finished up the chips and our first beer tasting, we headed into the kitchen, where Pechal demonstrated how to make the next pairing’s featured bite: shrimp fritters with Meyer lemon aioli. Pechal proved to be a natural showman and teacher, explaining each step of the recipe with clarity and good humor. Since this first event was originally touted as a "cooking class," I was a little surprised when we left the kitchen after just one demo, and with no opportunity to try our hand at making any of the dishes. But after all, it was the first class and I imagine they were still working out the kinks.

Chef Pechal in the kitchen (l); brewmaster Miller discusses one of his liquid creations.
Clockwise from left: fritter ingredients mise en place; whisking in the peppers; the finished batter; frying the fritters.
Despite this minor disappointment, I was having a good time. Moving back into the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, my fellow classmates and I happily munched on the fritters while sipping its beer pairing, Berryessa’s Common Sense Ale. After some more socializing, some more beer, and some enlightening comments from brewmaster Chris Miller, we sampled a refreshing salad of grapefruit and greens …

followed by housemade sausage with horseradish mustard, paired with Cease and Desist Ale, my favorite beer of the night.

And so the evening progressed: As we ate and drank our way through the pairings, Miller discussed the attributes of each brew and Pechal provided commentary on the food. There was a bit of Q-and-A, a good amount of culinary education and quite a few laughs. I even got the chance to taste my very first barley wine.

Chef Pechal (l) and brewmaster Miller (r).

Oh, and there was bacon. Chocolate-covered bacon to be exact, which was a surprisingly suitable accompaniment to the last brew of the night, a smooth, dark stout… the name of which I honestly can’t recall. I blame the beer (and the bacon).

Everything’s better with bacon. It’s true.

The next Northern California Favorites class will be held this Saturday, April 13. The class is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m., but be aware that the March event ran until 7 p.m. Students in the April class will partake of wine and cheese pairings featuring Sean Minor Wines

What: Monthly classes hosted by Chef Adam Pechal and Feeding Crane Farms, highlighting the chef’s favorite Northern California farms, food and beverage producers and culinary events. Classes include food and drink tastings, recipes, free all-night parking and goodie bags for each student.

Cost: $49 per person or $89 per couple

When: Every second Saturday, 4-6 p.m.

Where: Lulu’s Kitchen, 701 16th St. (at G Street)

Tickets are available via Chef Pechal’s Eventbrite page. All students must be 21 years of age or older and will be asked to show identification at the door.

Dawn Balzarano is a local freelance food photographer, blogging at KitchenTravels.com.

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