I’m not easily starstruck, but put a celebrity chef in front of me and I’m the culinary equivalent of a Justin Bieber believer. So you can imagine the squeal-inducing excitement that came over me when I received a call from Three On The Bund’s PR girl inviting me to the Haute Cuisine Master Cooking Class by none other than Jean Georges himself. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I peed my pants a little.
I arrived early, and out he popped to shake my head, welcome me personally and ask if I was hungry. I don’t remember what I replied, but I’m fairly sure it was unintelligible due to my helpless case of the nervous giggles. As the taitais (housewives) rolled in, he joined his foxy executive chef at the demonstration table where they whipped up the menu we’d be sampling for lunch.
Jean Georges Haute Cuisine Master Cooking Class Menu
Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna with a Sriracha Citrus Emulsion
Sauteed Sea Bass, Spaghetti Squash, Sesame Broth and Chili Oil
Grand Marnier Souffle and Mandarin Sorbet
Of course, the man, the myth, the legend made it all look as easy as pie. As the taitais hastily scribbled notes and noted which international grocer sold what expensive ingredients, I wrote things like “JG says the sriracha citrus emulsion is delicious with French fries” on the accompanying recipe cards we received. It’s not that I don’t like rice cracker crusted tuna (turns out, I thoroughly enjoy it, as I found out at the luncheon), I just don’t trust myself to serve almost-raw fish to anyone, ever. However, I consider French fries to be the salt of the earth/my kitchen.
JG passed every finished dish around, inviting us to smell the aromas and getting our stomachs growling for the meal to come; he even handed individual ingredients like the spaghetti squash to his rapt audience. Not a staple of the layman kitchen, the spaghetti squash or yuchigua (鱼翅瓜) shreds into pasta-like strands with a fork after a good baking, and it’s easy to find in the local wet markets.
He ended with a triumphant soufflé after spending the whole class nervously joking about how bad he’d look if it didn’t rise (as if a soufflé would deign not rise for Jean f-ing Georges).
I learned a lot from the class – like that I will never ever cook in the big leagues or how incredibly charming and likeable Jean Georges is. Or the recipe for the best dipping sauce for French fries ever. But, I never did figure out how to pronounce his last name. I guess I’ll just have to attend his next class when he’s back in town to plan the next seasonal menu! Twist my arm.
Sriracha Citrus Emulsion
2 tbsp dashi
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp sriracha
1.5 tbsp salt
1 1/3 cup grapeseed oil or sunflower oil
Combine all but oil in robot coupe (ed. note: having no robot coup, I use a blender). Puree, then drizzle in oil. Refrigerate until needed.
UnTour Shanghai also offers cooking classes, albeit not with Jean Georges. To learn more about Chinese cuisine or explore a wet market replete with j?ngu? (??) and other local specialties, reserve a tour today!