Saturdays: Cooking Classes with Chef Peter DeRuvo
Did you know that Prado, InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa’s award-winning signature restaurant, offers cooking classes on Saturdays with Chef Peter DeRuvo? If you didn’t, now you do (and simply put – you need to go!). We’ve been raving endlessly about Prado, the adventuresome tapas menu, the resort, its entire staff and, of course, Chef Peter himself as he brings such genuineness and creativity to the menu. What you see if what you get with him – Chef Peter is so present at the restaurant and really aims to create a full experience with his guests. His excitement and passion for flavor is so present in his craft; watching him carefully create each dish is such an art – I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon (not to mention he’s a fun quite a fun guy to hang with!).
Taryn and I had the opportunity to sit in on one of the Saturday afternoon Cooking Classes with Chef Peter – such an intimate experience to “get to know the man behind the food” and learn a few lessons along the way. Throughout the afternoon, Chef Peter shared tidbits of information (be sure to bring a pen and paper for note-taking!) from the importance of knife skills – choosing a knife that fits you (as he says, it “takes a whole life to learn to use them properly”), his sources for local ingredients, and lessons to learn to cook over an open fire, all while throwing a few jokes in between.
We even got a quick lesson in oyster shucking (which I will honestly admit, Taryn did much better than I did):
The afternoon began with Bruschetta – grilled MJ bread, drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic cloves, topped with local tomatoes, Murray River salt, dried oregano from Sicily and fresh basil.
On the side, he presented us with a tasting of mozzarella di bufala as well as burrata (both drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt) to compare. Taryn and I went nuts over the burrata, which has a slight more ‘tang’ to it than the mozzarella, and since then have hunted down the deliciousness in our city (try Gina’s Homemade burrata out at one of the farmers’ markets).
Next up: the oysters. Chef Peter used Kumamoto oysters as they are more delicate and have less salinity than other varieties. He topped the opened oysters with uni and nori for texture (Side note: it’s good for the digestive system!), then drizzled with Sicilian blood orange oil and placed a slice of cucumber a top. Not usually a fan of raw oysters, I absolutely loved these.
Following the oysters, Chef prepared for us Soft-Shell Blue Crabs (he sources them from Florida –they arrive packed in hay) that were absolutely delicious and what I thought to be the star of the afternoon.
Chef Peter explained that because of the molting process, the skin is very soft – a lot like that of a lobster, or even a snake – so there’s no hard shell; the entire crab is completely edible. He lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper and a hint of spice rib that he likes to call “Pete’s Old Bay” (jokester!). He mentioned that usually you might see these little guys fried, but personally he likes them grilled (obviously, they would have less fat prepared this way). And, I have to say – whatever is good enough for Chef Peter is certainly good enough for me!
After seasoning the grill, Chef placed the crabs bottom side down and shared his words to live by: Amateurs cook on flames; chefs cook on coals (write this down!). While the crab grilled (approx. 3-4 minutes on each side), his attention focused on the rest of the plate beginning with sliced avocado, Valencia oranges, and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil and the residual juice from the oranges for acidity. The crab was seasoned with lemon juice and a touch of Murray River salt, sliced in half and placed a top. For garnish, Chef Peter opted for Pea Tendrils from Pat Duncan noting that “You eat with your eyes first. Even if you don’t eat the garnish, you appreciate the time that the chef took to make it look presentable. If your dish looks great, you’ll enjoy it that much more.” The crab was finished with a bit of avocado oil for creaminess.
Next we were presented delectable Razor Clams with bacon, fresh parsley and lemon juice while he talked about his two young children and how he is introducing them to new foods and flavors.
…And then, Seared Branzino with fingerling potatoes, local tomatoes, fava beans, and sugar snap peas. He seasoned the fish (but not the skin) with salt and pepper and placed it skin-side down in a hot pan to sear, pressing down gently throughout cooking to get the skin beautiful and crisp. While we waited, we were given Watermelon and Ginger Granita that Taryn so perfectly described as “It tasted like summer!” – So delicious and refreshing!
The vegetables presented with the fish and seasoned with fresh basil and oregano. The dish was finally finished with Lemon Agrumato Olive Oil (Chef Peter is a firm believer that every dish must have an olive oil!), Murray River salt and a carrot top garnish (he never throws anything away).
As if our meal had not been anything less than perfect, it was time for dessert. Taryn and I shared two desserts:
Baby Baci – salted caramel gelato with almonds with a flourless chocolate cake topped with Valrhona Chocolate Sauce – absolutely delicious – the chocolate sauce is heaven.
Sundae at Prado – Vanilla bean and turbinado sugar gelato, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized bananas, amarone cherries, warm chocolate sauce, roasted almonds, and biscotti crumbles. Never in my life have I had a more perfect sundae.
It’s almost impossible to put into words how amazing our afternoon was – we left with new recipes, new skills (well, Taryn’s oyster shucking skills still might be better than mine) and an even bigger appreciation for Chef Peter and his team at Prado. If you haven’t been out yet for dinner since the menu change, or even tapas, we really encourage you to do so.
While you’re at it, sign up for a Saturday afternoon Cooking Class that you won’t regret- the class is all-inclusive and is priced at $108 per person. Reservations must be made in advance by calling 480-627-3076.
Keep an eye out for a special lamb dinner at Prado scheduled for Friday the 13th!
Prado | 4949 E. Lincoln Drive | Paradise Valley, AZ | 480-627-3200 | pradolife.com
*This meal was provided to us complimentary as a part of a media invitation. However, this has no effect on our opinions and comments regarding our experience. View our Disclosure Policy for further explanation.