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Levy Restaurants cooking school Archives

June 1, 2013

Downtown Disney's Portobello Restaurant to host Italian cooking school for adults

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Chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago's Spiaggia, Cafe Spiaggia and Bar Toma will be hosting an adult cooking class at Downtown Disney's Portobello Restaurant on Friday, June 14.

During the two-hour Pantry Raid cooking class, Mantuano will show participants how to use ingredients most people keep on hand at home to create a variety of Italian specialties. Among the demonstrations are pickling vegetables, fresh pasta preparation, and balsamic and honey tastings.

"Like our cooking classes for children, this class will have ample participation from audience volunteers, and the dishes that are demonstrated will be served to the class," said Steven Richard, area chef for Levy Restaurants and former executive chef at Portobello. 

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Also, wine will be paired with each of the dishes: Zonin Prosecco with antipasti, Bertani Valpolicella with pizza, Mazzei Badiola with pasta, and Ruffino Moscato with dessert."®

Certainly, attendees at cooking classes have a desire to become better chefs themselves. I recently asked Chef Mantuano, though, what he thinks motivates adults to become creative cooks.

"I think adults are inspired by memories from their childhood and from their travels. We all want to recreate a dish our grandmother made or other family recipes. We also want to recreate them with our own little twist," he said. "I've added a few of my nonna's recipes, some with my own take, at my restaurants. I also love traveling and bringing home food memories to recreate favorite dishes or meals with my family or at one of my restaurants."

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The Pantry Raid class is designed to appeal to cooks of all skill levels, and Mantuano will offer tips, tricks and strategies to take away and use at home. For beginning cooks -- who might feel motivated, yet overwhelmed, by the many possibilities -- Mantuano offers this advice:

"Start with something simple and make a cuisine or dish you already like or know. This way you know what to expect in the end.  You do not want your first attempts at cooking to be overly complicated or with cuisines you're not sure of the flavor profile. For those who like authentic Italian food, I'd suggest making a spaghetti pomodoro. Find a great dried pasta brand, such as from Giuseppe Cocco, and a pomodoro recipe online either with fresh tomatoes (in the summer) or canned San Marzano tomato puree. This is typically a simple and easy-to-follow recipe that will help build up confidence in the kitchen. From there they can start advancing with other recipes." 

Mantuano encourages budding chefs to enjoy the entire creative process involved with cooking. He said he thinks many adults actually find the most pleasure in shopping for each dish.

"I think adults like sourcing ingredients the most. Going to their local grocery store or food shop to pick out the ingredients themselves is an exciting part of the process, especially as they get to know their butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, and others," he told me. "I think the more adventurous like going to the market and seeing what is in season and then figuring out a menu."

"®The Portobello Pantry Raid cooking class, which runs from 1 to 3 p.m. June 14, is $49.95 per person. The class will be capped at 32 participants to maintain an intimate experience with Chef Mantuano. To make a reservation, call 407-828-8996.

May 11, 2013

3 Levy restaurants host kids cooking school at Downtown Disney this summer

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UPDATE: The June 22 class is full, and a second cooking school has been added on June 29. To register for the later date, call 407-828-8996.

How are foodies born?

Everyone loves delicious food, but the truly dedicated -- those adventurous eaters who look forward to tastings, new restaurants and different recipes -- may also enjoy cooking and learning to create tasty dishes in their own homes. And for them, it's never too soon to start.

Levy Restaurants is again offering a summer cooking school for kids ages 6 to 12, who may be the foodies of the future. The kid-friendly cooking class takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Fulton's Crab House, Portobello Restaurant and Wolfgang Puck Café.

"It never ceases to amaze us each year how excited the kids are to learn about cooking," said Steven Richard, area chef for Levy Restaurants and former executive chef at Portobello. "There doesn't seem to be a minimum age requirement to be a foodie."

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Time to learn how to eat the Yummy Gummy Dessert Sushi these chefs created at Wolfgang Puck Café.

Budding chefs will be guided through preparing one recipe at each restaurant: Mini Crab Cakes at Fulton's, Ravioli Gigante with Tomato Basil Sauce at Portobello and Yummy Gummy Dessert Sushi at the Wolfgang Puck Café. And then the kids will be able to eat the dishes they are learning to prepare from each restaurant's executive chef and culinary team.

"We're bringing back the Dessert Sushi and Ravioli by popular demand," said Richard. "The kids seem to enjoy the hands-on manipulation of food the most, such as ravioli assembly and sushi role assembly."

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Young chefs pause before they work with fresh pasta at Portobello.

Aside from learning how to make something delicious to eat, children learn valuable skills when they learn to cook, Richard said. They develop a better understanding of organization, nutrition, and even math skills when it comes to measuring ingredients.

"Cooking is about planning your work and working your plan. Staying organized is key to professional cooks and that carries over to home cooking," he said. "Also, for me, cooking and feeding people is an important part of life. It's something that every culture shares. I think it's a positive thing to nurture a curiosity in cooking at an early age."

So, how do parents build on the enthusiasm for cooking that their children gain from the Levy event?

"Most of the good home cooks that I know are defined by a short list of things they do very well. I would stick to simple but satisfying items like a the tomato sauce that we do with the kids at Portobello. It's an item that can be built upon by combining with a simple pizza dough recipe or meat balls. You can apply it to a number of dishes like lasagna and chicken ptarmigan," Richard advises. "Follow your curiosity and cook what you like."

The Levy cooking school is $37 per child. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis until the event is full. To sign up, call 407-828-8996. Parents are welcome to stay with their children during the cooking school or enjoy the four hours on their own at Downtown Disney. Levy also offers group cooking classes at all three locations for adults, which can be booked through the same phone number.

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