Andrew Richards Designs at 571 Adelaide St. E., Toronto
Toben Food by Design held a class on summer entertaining at Andrew Richards Designs and lucky me, I was invited to attend! You can find many of the recipes of dishes served at this event on my Facebook Page.
The space upstairs is absolutely gorgeous and the seating for watching the demo cheerful and comfortable.
There were live demonstrations on how to make the many dishes we would be served.
Did I mention the venue was gorgeous?
The event started with a signature non-alcohol drink: Mint Melon Lemonade made with watermelon, honey dew, fresh lemon juice, wildflower honey, mint & fennel.
It had wild flavours that I never knew could mingle together so perfectly and how adorable to serve the drinks in mini milk containers with paper straws.
Chef Toben used his homemade jerk spice to season the Jerk Seared Tuna and Island Chopped Salad (black beans, jicama, watermelon, mango, avocado, pickled onion and snap peas). He also recommended using relatively inexpensive cast iron pans over fancy European cookware. Fascinating!
He said that his trick to cooking the tuna was to make sure that it was up to room temperature before searing it on all sides, leaving the center uncooked.
It was seared just for 15-20 seconds on all sides. To keep entertaining as relaxed and simple as possible, he said you can sear the tuna up to three or four hours in advance. Take it out of the fridge half an hour before the guests arrive and then thinly slice and put it on your salad.
This was an absolutely stunning room temperature salad that was not at all heavy but absolutely refreshing. The tuna was the star of the show and really emphasized the importance of the quality of the protein for making a big impression, transforming “just a salad” at a summer event into a stellar dish.
One thing I wanted to know is what food trends are now out for summer entertaining that you might want to avoid. Catering director Elana Kochman said that smaller portions versus big time grilling is more in style this summer and I was fascinated to find out that, in the catering business at least, wedding cakes are out!
The Seared Ribeye Steak and Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad (kale, rustic garlicky bread, grilled red onion, oyster mushrooms, fresh parsley and basil-sherry vinaigrette) was my absolute favourite dish. Once again, the quality of all the components (especially the meat) really shone.
The underlying components (AKA the vegetables) were all prepared in advance and Chef Toben spoke of using fresh and local ingredients for the salad. He said you can even do the chopping, grilling, roasting of the vegetables a day in advance.
You can dress the vegetables and the bread an hour in advance so the bread soaks up the dressing.
He garnished the dish with a little shaved Parmesan cheese but you can use whatever cheese you want and then add the sliced cooked ribeye steak.
The steak was absolutely cooked perfectly and went together so well with the vegetables. I was shocked fresh kale could taste so light and dressing it in advance seemed to help it soften.
The Summer Lobster Salad (warm fingerling potato salad, charred corn, grilled fennel, crispy chorizo, grilled asparagus, roasted pepper romesco sauce and lemon-tarragon vinaigrette) is a special occasion dish of course because of the lobster.
If the idea of cooking lobster and disassembling it is overwhelming, Chef Toben suggested you get your fish purveyor to cook and disassemble it for you ahead of time.
This way you can chop it up to create a light amazing salad with roasted red pepper sauce on a roasted potato salad with in-season vegetables. Make sure to dress the potatoes right out of the oven for them to be infused with flavour.
I did enjoy this salad, especially the potatoes, but I am kind of a traditionalist with lobster and having it in the light (albeit delicious) Romesco sauce, I found the robust lobster flavour got a tad lost. For people who enjoy more subtle flavours, they might prefer this dish but I can not help it, when I have lobster I really want to just taste lobster.
The Ontario Lemon-Strawberry Shortcake was the biggest treat for me. So often shortcakes are dry and over compensated with whipped cream but these were absolutely perfect. Lemon scented biscuit, vanilla Chantilly cream and rum-mint macerated strawberries, this was bliss.
Chef Toben insisted that when it comes to dessert, everyone can make a biscuit. That this recipe is definitely accessible. Personally? I will be making this! A two-bite dessert that is creamy, fruity with a bit of crunch… Absolutely perfect for finishing off a summer event.
For non-traditionalists, the Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Shortcake topped with banana brulee and candied bacon was an eye popper indeed. I am not sure the bacon was necessary but it was a cute ode to the King of Rock and Roll. It was delicious, unusual and memorable. If you make this, you will have your guests talking about it on the way home.
Yes, I ate all that food and did not leave a bite left. Everything was so delicious and the presentation got me actually believing I could host an elegant summer event without me wanting to pull my hair out.
The menu’s focus on salads with exquisite protein was inspired. It allows your guests to have a taste of everything without feeling like they have seriously over indulged.
Thank you Chef Toben and Elana Kochman for such a lovely and inspired foodie event. The food was fantastic, the content of the class fascinating and I left inspired dreaming of throwing a summer party but making sure to do almost everything ahead of time to help cut back on the stress of entertaining. Oh and that bundle of Lime Chili Black Pepper Popcorn I went home with? Gone in seconds.