A wise W.C Fields once stated, “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” Cooking must stop being a chore; today all of you out there reading this should cook for yourself. Better yet, I order you to cook for yourself and cook a meal that you’ve never cooked before. Never made chili…look who is having chili tonight. Try something new and impress yourself. When your done cooking it, look at it and plate that thing and try your best to make it look professional and “pretty”. After it’s on your plate take a nice cliché picture of tonight’s meal and feel proud. Men and women have been cooking for themselves since the beginning of time and I think it’s about that time that you learn. With the ample amount of interesting information out there on the internet there is absolutely no excuse. Most people can turn on a grill and cook the life out of their food until they are positive their guests won’t be wrapped around a toilet all night….but why not learn how to do things correctly? I am not attempting to pretend I am some great cook and people will be very happy to tell you some of my flavor combinations can be downright despicable. BUT….. I want to learn. I have always loved entertaining whether its planning horribly organized beer Olympics or parties back at the ole dumpster. You don’t have to love to cook, but I do believe that everyone should cook in a way that is more than boxed meals and pasta. Take an extra five minutes out of your life before you cook that salmon on the stove top and watch a professional chef do it first….see the difference. I relate the feeling of cooking a great meal that makes your loved ones happy to only a few feelings…a Giants victory, Lebron beating Steph, and not completely failing an accounting exam (it’s happened I swear).
Don’t feel like staring at YouTube videos all day like a weirdo (me)… than I strongly suggest you check out Matthew May’s interactive cooking class (unlimited wine). I’ve attended one of these classes and it was extremely entertaining, delicious, and you learn things too… and there’s a lot of wine. If you live around the Hampton Roads area check it out! I’d like to thank Matthew May for doing the interview with me and giving us a little insight into his life!
Interview with Chef May
What is your name and place of cooking as well? Including that extremely entertaining class!
Chef May: My Name is Matthew May. Virginia Beach Town Center is where I reside, as well as where I teach interactive cooking classes at The Cosmopolitan. You can find my cooking class topics and schedules as well as food safety information, and lots more on my web site at www.matthewmay.org. I’m also a General Manager of a corporate dining account inside an investment firm in Norfolk, where we serve breakfast, lunch, and catering to it’s nearly 700 associates.
Food has just recently became a passion of mine… why is food your passion and when did you realize this to be your future career?
Chef May: When I was a junior in high school in upstate New York, both of my parents worked, giving me a lot of free time to explore the kitchen and see what I could come up with to surprise them. A lot of the times, I would end up creating something so horrible, that it had to be thrown away. This was very upsetting to my mother, as both my parents worked very hard to put food on the table for me and my three sisters. But, it was through this freedom to experiment that sparked the passion within me to want to learn more and create more!
Weirdly the dish that made me love cooking was learning to cook “French Scrambled Eggs” from Chef Ramsay…. What was your first go to meal you would cook that you absolutely loved?
Chef May: I remember falling in love with something as simple as French toast! For some reason, I always seemed to think ‘outside of the box’ and would create something like “White Chocolate-Almond French Toast” or “Orange Pecan French Toast”, simply by adding different ingredients to the egg and milk mixture. Needles to say, I liked to explore different flavor combinations.
Dishes vary in difficulty of course…. What dish is the hardest for you to perfect? What is the easiest?
Chef May: Something as simple as grilling a steak, can be very complicated. Bringing the meat to room temperature is critical before applying intense heat, and then there are so many variables that determine how well a steak is cooked: The thickness of the steak, how hot the flame or surface is, and are you starting with a cold piece of meat or did you allow it to come up to room temperature. These all play a part in the cooking process, as well as the overall quality of the finished product.
I find making soups, stews, and chili to be very simple. This is where I would utilize any foods leftover from previous meals, and ‘odds and ends’ of vegetables and meats that need to be used before they spoil.
Which popular chef inspires you the most and why?
Chef May: Jeff Smith, from the 80’s inspired me to cook from the heart, and with passion and soul. Graham Kerr, also from the 80’s, inspired me to cook with creativity and joy. Guy Fieri, from today’s Food Network, inspires me to always think outside of the box, and to be creative and different.
What was your first job involving cooking and what are some things that it taught you?
Chef May: My very first cooking job was as a volunteer cook at Boy Scout camp. Awake before the sun, I would be in the kitchen assisting the camp chef. Although I don’t remember much of what I learned, it was here that I learned the importance of ‘being prepared’. The smallest error in judgment can affect hundreds of other people who are depending on you. Just a simple example of this would be deciding to sleep in for an extra 30 minutes. Imagine the unhappy campers as they arrive to the dining hall, and breakfast isn’t ready! L
In one sentence what would you say to convince somebody who hasn’t given cooking a try to get them to get in the kitchen?
Chef May: Learn what flavors and aromas excite you the most, and get in the kitchen and explore how you might be able to apply those flavors to other foods. You might be surprised!
Professional kitchens are somewhat of a mystery to anyone on the outside; what is one of your crazy stories that you’ve been a part of in the kitchen or cooking for people in general?
Chef May: A professional kitchen is a very exciting place to work, but it can also be a very scary place! To this day, I might wake up from a bad dream where I’m working on a sauté line, where the ticket machine is pumping out tickets from the servers, and I can’t keep up with cooking the food fast enough. Eventually, there are tickets all over the place, confusion and chaos has got a tight grip on me, and I wake up with my heart racing! Thankfully, this has never happened to me in real life, but this is just a small example of the ‘adrenalin junkies’ we call CHEFS!
However, in a truly professional kitchen, certain people are responsible for specific parts of the menu. We are always communicating with each other to make sure we prepare our part of the menu in conjunction with each other, so the food can be served to the table at the same time. It’s a well-tuned orchestra, working in harmony! J
What are some tips you’d give a person just starting to cook and interested in cooking something other than boxed mac and cheese?
Chef May: The more thought you put into your ‘plan’, the better chance you have of succeeding. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Always be prepared, and have a back up plan.
What is the most satisfying thing about teaching beginners how to cook?
Chef May: The smiles on their faces after they discovered they made something GOOD! When they have an “ah ha!” moment of learning how or why something is done a certain way. When they learn about the ‘science’ behind a recipe. If a student walks away only learning one thing, I am happy!
You currently teach an interactive cooking class (unlimited wine) that you hold around once a month in Town Center, Virginia Beach…..Give the readers some information about how to attend one of your classes and how to find out more?
Chef May: I currently have my cooking classes scheduled through May of 2017, and each month is a different class and topic. I have gift certificates and gift cards available that are perfect for the “foodies” in your life. My cooking classes are ideal for a ‘date nights’ or a fun night out with your friends or family. Coming alone is great too, because you are guaranteed to make a new friend or two in class. My classes are very interactive where I encourage lots of questions. You may volunteer to assist me with some menu preparation. There’s lots of laughter, fun, wine, and satisfied appetites! Join me and Let’s Get Cooking!” check out www.matthewmay.org for class registration and more information.
Thanks again to Chef May and please check out his cooking class! Share and comment on the blog if you like it!
TIP OF THE WEEK: Stop cooking your eggs thirty seconds before they’re done and finish cooking them off the heat.