What’s Cooking?

Looking for a special night out? Try a unique cooking experience at the Grand Bohemian Hotel.

Written by Robin Colter; Photographed by Chuck St. John

True story.  My mama always said that I would never find a husband if I didn’t learn to cook. I did not take her advice at the time—which, in fact, turned out to be the precise cause of my marital bliss.  Picture this: a young, single gal with no interest in the culinary arts discovers that a young, single guy has opened up a quaint little eatery down the street from her house. She becomes a regular. He makes a killer peanut butter pie.  The rest is history.

Fast forward 20 years. I’ve discovered both an interest and an aptitude for cooking. More importantly I have discovered the time to do it. But the Mister still fancies himself king in the kitchen. It’s the one place we are least likely to work as a harmonious team. Our differing tastes and styles are never more evident than when we are together in the kitchen. Still, we persist in the nightly cooking clash, where I start something and he decides to finish it his way. Or I question his choice of seasonings—too many? Too few? We definitely need some kitchen counseling. Perhaps we can find culinary balance with a little help from a trained professional—one who specializes in just this kind of discord. And we may have found our answer in Chef Joshua Towey and the Classes by Kessler at the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook.

Classmates for the evening: Chase, Jenny, Abby, Kyle, Chef Josh, Robin, Steve, and Denise

Chef Josh is, without a doubt, the king of this kitchen, but he definitely wants you to be a part of the experience. Class sizes range from 6-25 people and can be a great way to create a special evening with friends or a reason to make friends of the strangers cooking next to you. I suggest you come with a sense of adventure, a healthy appetite–and be ready to dice, blend and saute like a pro.

Our kitchen adventure was aptly titled Three if by Sea. We enjoyed fresh scallops with fingerling potatoes, a Gulf shrimp stew, and grilled cobia with fennel and oranges. All the ingredients were fresh, delicious and each of us took a role in the preparations. Steve and I hand-picked basil for a salsa verde while Denise from Michigan diced up potatoes. Abby and Jenny (who were both celebrating birthdays) pan fried our scallops while Kyle used the very popular kitchen torch on fresh corn for our stew.  It was truly a group effort with Chef Josh guiding and giving us all sorts of kitchen tips and trivia along the way.

We ate throughout the evening as each component of the meal was plated up. The portions were quite sizable and incredibly tasty. A wine steward checked in on us frequently, as several in our group were pairing their dinner with a light rose. It’s one thing to have a lovely meal out, but distinctly another to have had a hand in creating it yourself. It turned a memorable meal into a memorable experience that I’ll be quick to sign up for again.

We learned a lot. We ate a lot. And, more importantly, we laughed a lot that night. Each person there had a great time in addition to a great meal. As for Steve and I, we decided that laughter and cooperation might just be the most important ingredients of a successful kitchen experience.

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