Part of what people miss about restaurants isn't just the food or not having to do dishes. It's the interaction with chefs, servers, bartenders, and sommeliers — those perfectly timed suggestions that take a meal from good to great.
I'll Have What She's Having, the local organization formed in 2017 by women in the restaurant industry and physicians to raise awareness of women's health issues, has a plan to help diners reconnect with some of the city's top culinary professionals. They've begun hosting a series of cooking classes and wine tasting events that feature some of the city's top female chefs and sommeliers. Each class includes both access to a webinar and a meal kit with ingredients that keeps participants on track.
The programming kicked off last weekend with Dawn Burrell, a current James Beard Award semifinalist for her work as the executive chef at downtown restaurant Kulture, who led a cooking class for roughly 40 people. During the approximately hour-and-a-half presentation, Burrell demonstrated how to roast a chicken, prepare yam gnocchi, and a companion sauce. Using the Zoom video conferencing app allowed Burrell and host Kate McLean to field questions from class participants.
“The classes are a positive moment, and a great event for people who’ve been looking for a way to connect with friends, especially those wonderful supporters of Houston restaurants who are as heartbroken as we are to see the hit our plans and dreams are taking," Burrell said in a statement. "We chefs don’t feel whole unless we are creating and caring for others, so we’ve created this series to express our love of our craft and our diners and what they are going through as well. The silver lining of this year will be new relationships and stronger friendships that are forged out of these historic times.”
Next up, master sommelier June Rodil, a partner in Goodnight Hospitality and a James Beard Award semifinalist nominee in the Outstanding Wine Program category for her work at Rosie Cannonball, will lead a wine tasting seminar that's scheduled for Thursday, April 9, at 5:30 pm. Rodil, who will be joined by cheesemonger Shannon McCracken of Montrose Cheese and Wine, will lead a tasting of three wines.
Those interested in participating may sign up via the I'll Have What She's Having website. The $85 fee includes the webinar, two bottles of wine, three cheeses, and fresh bread from Magnol French Baking. Alternatively, people may register for the webinar without wine or cheese for $10.
Next up, veteran pastry chef Dory Fung (Yauatcha, Poitín) will lead an Easter cookie decorating class on Saturday, April 11, at 2 pm. The $50 fee includes a dozen cookies, a decorating kit, and juices for making mocktails. A bottle of sparking rosé is available for an additional $20. Tickets are also available via the I'll Have What She's Having website.
Future classes may include presentations from some of the chefs at Rice Village food hall Politan Row, including Evelyn Garcia of Kin, Victoria Elizondo of Cochinita & Co, and Keisha Griggs of ATE Boutique Kitchen as well as additional wine tastings with Rodil.